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Netherlands king pledges to push China-EU free trade

2015-October-27       Source: Chinadaily.com.cn

The Netherlands vowed on Monday to promote free trade and people-to-people exchanges between Europe and China when it assumes the rotating presidency of the European Union next year.

He says his country will also be active in Belt and Road, AIIB

The Netherlands vowed on Monday to promote free trade and people-to-people exchanges between Europe and China when it assumes the rotating presidency of the European Union next year.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander made the remarks while meeting with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The king also said his country will actively participate in cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative as well as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The Netherlands is one of the 57 prospective founding members of the AIIB.

The Netherlands will also push the Belt and Road Initiative and the EU Investment Plan so that both sides can benefit and achieve common goals, said the king.

China announced in late September its plan to take part in the 315 billion euros ($347 billion) EU investment plan, becoming the first country outside the EU to invest in the project.

Xi, who said the bilateral ties have become increasingly mature, suggested that the two countries push forward trade and investment cooperation.

He also called on both sides to explore cooperation in fields including aviation, biomedicine, new energy and smart-city building.

The Netherlands is China's third-largest trading partner within the EU.

The two heads of state witnessed the signing of 15 deals and cooperation documents after the meeting.

Liu Haixing, director-general of the Department of European Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, told reporters after the meeting that China expects the Netherlands to "play an active role" in pushing forward China-EU relations when it takes the EU presidency in the first half of next year.

"Especially on some projects of common interest for China and the EU," he said, citing negotiations on the China-EU investment agreement and studies of China-EU free trade.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima are on a visit to China from Oct 25 to 29.

It is the first state visit by the king to China since he ascended to the throne on April 30, 2013, when his mother, Queen Beatrix, abdicated.

Accompanying the Dutch royal couple is a trade delegation comprising about 250 representatives from some 150 Dutch companies that hope to tap the possibilities of further economic cooperation.

In March last year, President Xi made a state visit to the Netherlands.

On Monday, the king also met with Premier Li Keqiang, who said Beijing supports deeper cooperation by the energy companies of the two countries to explore third-party markets together.

The Dutch king will also visit Yan'an in Shaanxi province, where Xi worked when he was young, as well as the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong, a national institution in Shanghai that focuses on training government officials.

"The arrangement shows that more and more countries are interested in the way in which China is governed and the way in which it has developed", said Wang Yiwei, director of the Center for EU Studies of Renmin University of China.

"The Chinese government and China's fast development have impressed the international community, and they want to go back to the source and find answers," he said.

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders told Chinese media ahead of the visit, "We are very much aware of the enormous importance of China in the world.

"I believe in what is called 'the peaceful rise of China'. China is growing economically and socially. ... I see the possibility of China and Europe working together as a necessity."

Editor: Yishan

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