|Ambassador Cao Zhongming Published an Article in the Special Issue of "Diplomatic World" Journal on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and Belgium
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Kingdom of Belgium, the Chinese Embassy in Belgium and the Belgian "Diplomatic World" journal jointly published a special issue on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium. Cao Zhongming, the Ambassador of China to Belgium, published an article in the special issue titled 1971-2021 Standing at a New Historical Start Opening a New Chapter of China-Belgium Cooperation. The full text of the article:
Standing at a New Historical Start
Opening a New Chapter of China-Belgium Cooperation
The number "one" is salient on the chronicles of China-Belgium relations. Belgium was the first European country to provide government loan to China, the first to establish an industrial investment fund with China, and the first to open charter flights for Chinese tourists. In 1971, China and Belgium established diplomatic relations and became a good example of friendly relations between countries with different social system, history, culture, and level of economic development. Turning the hour hand forward 50 years more, 100 years ago, in 1921, a group of Chinese students who were full of the ideal of saving the country and serving the country came for work-study programs at the Charleroi Labor University in Belgium. They not only gave the city a very poetic Chinese name "Xiaoluhuai" (locust in the morning dew), but also affectionately called the university "China-Belgium University". One of them was the 22-year-old young man named Nie Rongzhen. He read the "Communist Manifesto" and other works in the library of the University, and joined the Chinese Youth Communist Party in Europe. In this year, the Communist Party of China was established in Shanghai, which was a groundbreaking event. 28 years later, Nie Rongzhen became one of the founding fathers of the People's Republic of China.
The past 50 years have not only witnessed the deepening of China-Belgium friendship, but also witnessed China's development and progress. After I took office as the Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, I have had many contacts and exchanges with people from all walks of life in Belgium. Someone asked me, why has China achieved such great development in decades? China is so big, how can we understand China? I told them that if you want to "understand" China, you must understand why the Chinese Communist Party "can". Because without the Communist Party of China, there would be no China as it is today. Looking at the world, political parties have become the basic political organization and important political force in the political life of nearly all countries. Modern politics with parties as the protagonist has become a common political form in various countries. However, in different countries, political parties play different roles. The Communist Party of China has been a century-old party and the ruling party that has played a primary role in the political life of the country. The reason why the Chinese Communist Party is "capable" is that it has persisted in doing three things well.
First is to insist on putting the people at the center. UN Secretary-General Guterres said, China has made the greatest contribution to global poverty reduction in the past 10 years. Every year, The size of China's population lifted out of poverty is equivalent to the entire population of Belgium. This is an achievement of China and an achievement of the Communist Party of China. There is a small village in southwestern China surrounded by cliffs with high mountains. The 400 people in the village were almost isolated from the rest of the world. Communist Party member Mao Xianglin led the villagers to carve an 8 km "sky road" on the cliff in 7 years, develop rural tourism, and let the poor villages live a good life. Behind the huge number of 770 million Chinese rural population lifted out of poverty, there are many such touching stories. In 2020, a report from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University showed that the Chinese people's satisfaction with the central government is as high as 93.1%. The Chinese Communist Party has insisted on putting the people at the center since its birth, and it has won real popular support.
The second is to stick to our own path. Brussels is where Karl Marx once lived. The Swan House cafe on the Grand Place in Brussels has witnessed the birth of the "Communist Manifesto". The Chinese Communist Party has combined the general principles of Marxism with China's specific reality and has taken its own path with Chinese characteristics. Since modern times, China has tried different paths and encountered many difficulties. History has proved that the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the Communist Party of China is the correct path that can bring political stability, social progress, and improve people's livelihood, and is supported by the people.
The third is to persist in managing well our own affairs and continue to contribute positive energy to the world. China adheres to an independent foreign policy of peace, and while achieving its own development, it also strives to make our common homeland of mankind a better place. China advocates and practices multilateralism, and the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind has received positive responses from all countries in the world. China upholds international fairness and justice, opposes imposing its will on others, and opposes interference in the internal affairs of other countries. China has taken concrete actions to maintain world peace. It is the second largest UN peacekeeping fund-raising country and the largest peacekeeping troop-contributing permanent member of the Security Council. China continues to bring great development opportunities to the world, and its average annual contribution to world economic growth is 30%. President Xi Jinping said that Napoleon Bonaparte once observed that China was a sleeping lion and "when she wakes she will shake the world", and now China the lion has awakened, but it is a peaceful, amicable and civilized lion. This lion of China never believes in the laws of the jungle, but is a guardian of world peace and prosperity.
Over the past 50 years, China-Belgium relations have gradually matured along with the respective development of China and Belgium. High-level exchanges between the two countries have continued, and political relations have continued to strengthen. In 2014, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit, and China and Belgium formally established an all-round partnership for friendly cooperation. The bilateral trade has grown from 20 million US dollars at the beginning of the establishment of diplomatic relations to 27 billion US dollars, an increase of more than 1350 times. Against the backdrop of the epidemic, China-Belgium economic and trade cooperation grew against the trend last year, and Belgian investment in China broke the record of previous years, increasing by 210%. People-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries have continued to develop. There are a total of 32 pairs of sister cities between the two countries. The total number of Chinese overseas students in Belgium and Belgian overseas students in China has reached more than 3000. The giant panda family at Pairi Daiza Zoo has become a household name in Belgium. The pianist Jean-Francois Maljean composed "Chime of the Dawn Bells" for Wuhan's fight against the epidemic, which moved hundreds of millions of Chinese people. Fifty years ago, many Belgians only learned about China from Hergé's comic book "The Adventures of Tintin". Today, Lucas Deckers, a Belgian young man, can speak fluent Mandarin and has become the global champion of the "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students.
In my opinion, over the past 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium, the significant development of bilateral relations has benefited from four aspects of experiences. The first is mutual respect and trust. The two sides abide by their political commitments at the beginning of the establishment of diplomatic relations, respect their respective development paths, accommodate each other's major interests and concerns, and support each other in the face of major challenges such as corona virus. The second is open and win-win. The two sides adhere to free trade and an open economy, open the door to welcome each other's businesses and people, actively develop bilateral practical cooperation in various fields, and achieve self-profit through cooperation so that both peoples can benefit from the development of China-Belgium relations. The third is inclusiveness and mutual learning. The two sides vigorously promote cultural exchanges, promote equal dialogue and exchanges between different civilizations of the East and the West, and strengthen local and non-governmental exchanges between the two countries. Fourth is engaging with each other on an equal footing. We enhance mutual understanding through constructive dialogue despite the different views on some matters so that friendship and cooperation remain the mainstream of China-Belgium relations.
We stand at a new starting point as we celebrate half a century of friendly relations. China is ready to deepen the bilateral ties with Belgium by doing the following.
First is to stick to each other's direction and regard each other's development as a positive factor. Belgium enjoys the reputation of being the "European Capital". China values Belgium's unique role on the international stage and regards Belgium as an important partner within the EU. Under the guidance of the important consensus of the two heads of state, the two sides should always adhere to correct and objective mutual understanding, use political wisdom to enhance political mutual trust, and view each other's development with a positive and long-term perspective, so that bilateral relations can enjoy steady development over the long term.
The second is to focus on cooperation opportunities and promote mutual benefit and win-win results. This year is the first year of China's 14th Five-Year Plan, and China will open to the outside world at a higher level. China will implement the new development concept, give full play to its large-market advantages and domestic demand potential, and accelerate the building of a new development pattern with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and the domestic and international cycles reinforcing each other, so as to provide more opportunities for cooperation between the two countries. This year is also the year when the EU's large-scale economic recovery plan was launched. We are willing to work together with Belgium to provide each other with an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment, cultivate pragmatic cooperation in the post-epidemic era, and upgrade bilateral relations through expanding cooperation in port logistics, technological innovation, digital economy, energy environment, green growth, etc.
The third is to work hard to expand consensus, meet challenges together, and create a better future. The profound changes of the international landscape unseen in a century and and the epidemic of the century have further proved that all countries in the world have become a community with a shared future for mankind and must work together in solidarity. Both China and Belgium are important forces in defending multilateralism and supporting an open economy. We have many consensuses on global governance, sustainable development, and climate change. The two countries should firmly uphold the international system with the United Nations as the core, the international order based on international law and the multilateral trading system with the WTO as the cornerstone, jointly respond to global challenges and make greater contributions to the promotion of world peace, security and prosperity.
The 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations is an important milestone in the history of the development of China-Belgium relations. Belgian writer Metlinke said that the past and the future leads our way forward. At this new starting point, I believe that China and Belgium will sum up their historical experience and explore new ways and new areas of bilateral cooperation for the future, benefiting the people of the two countries and the whole world.