China’s diplomacy ushered in the ‘Nordic season’ this spring. In early April, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid his first visit to a Nordic country: Finland, which was a success. Later Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited China. At the beginning of May, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen will pay an official visit to China at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. All these manifest that the good season for relations between China and the Nordic countries has arrived.
Friendly interactions between the Nordic countries and China can be traced back to ancient times, and Denmark has always been a frontrunner. In 1674, the Danish merchant ship ‘Fortuna’ departed from Copenhagen to Fuzhou, China with a personal letter written by Christian V, the king of Denmark, to Chinese Emperor Kangxi, marking the maiden voyage of friendship between China and Denmark.
After I was posted in Denmark as the Chinese ambassador, through efforts, I was privileged to be able to finally see the letter, and it filled my mind with a myriad of thoughts. In 1950, Denmark became one of the first western countries to forge diplomatic ties with New China. In 2008, the two countries established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Over the past 67 years, despite some twists and turns, the ship of friendship between China and Denmark has always been sailing forward.
Largest trading partner in Asia
In recent years, the China-Denmark co-operation in all areas has been making satisfactory progress. Our bilateral relations have been constantly broadening and deepening. For many years China has remained Denmark’s largest trading partner in Asia, as our bilateral trade volume has increased 3,530-fold since 1950. Danish total investment in China exceeds 4.5 billion US dollars, making Denmark the European country with the largest investment in China per capita.
This year, Denmark became the first EU member state to co-host with China a Chinese tourism year. The China-Denmark Tourism Year 2017 will further enhance people-to-people exchanges between the ancient civilization in the east and the beautiful land of fairy-tales in northern Europe. When strolling through Tivoli, the world’s second oldest amusement park, Chinese visitors will find the Peacock Theatre and its distinctive Chinese style a pleasant surprise. Copenhagen boasts the highest concentration of Chinese restaurants in the Nordic region. Carlsberg and Lego claim leading market shares in China. Vestas, meanwhile, has built the world’s largest wind power production base in China. It is fair to say that the friendly co-operation between China and Denmark covers all aspects and brings tangible benefits to our two peoples.
Working towards the future
The growth of China and Denmark’s relationship over the past 67 years provides strong incentives to boost our bilateral co-operation. The strengths of our two countries in such areas as creativity and innovation, green economy, high-end manufacturing, education, elderly care and anti-corruption are highly complementary.
At present, both countries are seeking to transform and optimise economic and social development, creating good opportunities for an upgrading of our mutually-beneficial bilateral co-operation. China’s 13th five-year plan embraces a path of innovative, co-ordinated, green, open and shared development, which has many things in common with Denmark’s green, circular and sustainable economic and social development mode. Our co-operation in areas like eco-agriculture, water resource management and smart cities has been constantly deepened. The China-Denmark Joint Work program is soon to be released, the content of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between China and Denmark is being continuously enriched.
On the same page
As a Chinese saying goes, even mountains and seas cannot distance people with common aspirations. China and Denmark, separated by thousands of miles, varying in size and development level, both firmly support multilateralism, economic globalisation and free trade. During this critical juncture marked by profound changes in global landscape and new challenges posed to international order, both China and Denmark are committed to building a more open international economic order, promoting the development of a more just and equitable global governance system, and maintaining peace, stability and prosperity of the world.
The development of Sino-Danish relationship over the past 67 years speaks for itself. Looking back into the past and looking forward to the future, we believe that no matter how the international situation evolves, so long as our two sides respect and care for each other’s core interests and concerns, so long as we uphold the spirit of seeking common ground while putting aside differences in our practical exchanges and co-operation, we will always be able to expand common interests, enhance consensus in policies and concepts, and strengthen complementary co-operation.
In this way, the Sino-Danish relationship will keep moving forward against all winds and waves. Next year marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Sino-Danish comprehensive strategic partnership, bringing about new historic opportunities for the deepening of our bilateral co-operation in various fields.
I am fully confident that Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s visit to China will further inject strong and fresh impetus into Sino-Danish friendship and cooperation.