On Wednesday afternoon the Belgian Ambassador to China Mr. Gaston Van Duyse - Adam accepted an invitation to sit in the chat room of People's Daily Online where he communicated with the netizens for more than an hour. The following is excerpts from his dialogues with the netizens:
Ambassador: I have been in China for two years. My previous experience with China was fifteen years ago, when I was consular-general in HK. I confess that my professional ambition has always been to become ambassador to the People's Republic of China. I am privileged to serve in China which will obviously mark this new millennium politically, economically, philosophically and culturally.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador, please introduce about the areas in which China and Belgium can cooperate and what do you think of the prospect of the cooperation between the two countries?
Ambassador: I believe that since September 11 all countries share common responsibility , I am delighted to see that my country and Europe for that matter share identical views with China. And seek about the multilateral approach of problems. The fights against south-north divide in the world, fight against poverty, weapons of massive destruction, non-proliferation, but obviously also have a couple of differences, especially in the economical commercial areas. But we will come together to solve the problem under the WTO.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador you have been the consular-general in HK, what do you think of the difference between HK then and HK now. What do you think of HK's prospect?
Ambassador: First of all I did witness the negotiations between the PRC and the United Kingdom. I believe this was an example of diplomatic skills both ways. So I believe that both sides reached a good agreement with respect to the basic law. And that China's CEPA agreement will help the economic development within the Pearl River Delta.
Netizen: The trade relations between China and Belgium will be even better in the future. But China is still a developing country. Export from China to other countries is low in price compared with the same kind of products from other countries. Perhaps this will incur some dissatisfaction in other countries, for example, the shoes burning event in Spain. What do you think the state leaders of the two countries should guide this development?
Ambassador: First of all we go into rapidly into situation whereby China starts to export products that are more and more sophisticated. Secondly we are all members of the WTO and WTO is a club and every club needs rules to be respected by all parties. The growth of China' economy helps also the neighboring countries Lao, Thailand, Cambodia to lift their economies up. So China is no longer a threat but a bonus, a plus of the region. One problem that is very political today in certain western countries is the problem of outsourcing. But one has to analyze this in the long run. And one problem that certainly will exist with respect to China might be that the cost of energy will be no match of the lower cost of working labor. Businessmen come here because labor forces are less expensive. On the other hand energy is more expensive and there might be shortage. So one advantage might outweigh another. At the end I believe in free trade and free trade come with the goods and the less goods.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador do you have any idea which kind of Belgian products will have advantages in the Chinese market?
Ambassador: I would say chemicals, pharmaceuticals, services and products with hi-tech added value.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador what is your attitude toward the war in Iraq waged by the US-led coalition troops? And do you think the war in Iraq is justified or not?
Ambassador: My country was, is and will always be against the war in Iraq. This being said we have to be able to turn the page. We must try to find again a multilateral way with the United Nations, with the permanent members of the Security Council to put an end to what has been in my opinion a mistake. And I hope that our American friends will be open to listen to all views.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador what do you think of the shoes-burning event in Spain? And what do you think the governments and people in China and Europe should do in this respect?
Ambassador: I think we should not blow an incident out of proportion. And we e really have to think about commercial disputes, incidents like that in the long terms. Let bygones by bygones.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador what is Belgium's stand on the issue of arms and hi-technology sales to China?
Ambassador: Belgium is of the opinion that the weapon embargo became obsolete. We are absolutely on the same wavelength as our French partner in the EU. But we also are conscious that the decision will have to be taken by the council of the European Union by consensus.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador Brussels is where the headquarters of the EU situated. What do you think of the role that Brussels will play in the economic development of European countries?
Ambassador: I think that when you are the host of the EU, NATO and so many multinationals, first you have to be very modest. On the other hand Brussels is the gateway to the political, economic door to the EU. You have to be there. It is a win-win situation. I am very glad that China understood it very well, because PM Zhu Rongji and PM Wen Jiabao came very often to Brussels for that purpose. And we will be privileged to see Mr. Wen Jiabao again for the thirtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between EU and China.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador please comment on the question of China's peaceful rise.
Ambassador: As a European first of all we welcome this rise. We welcome it in economic terms but also in political terms. We appreciate most of all China's role in the United Nations, which is a role of moderation. And it's creative with regard to the problem of non-proliferation.
Netizen: In order to encourage communication and expand cooperation China and France held French Cultural Year and Chinese Cultural Year respectively. However we have little knowledge about Belgium. Have you thought of promoting Belgium in China and intensify communication activities between the two countries.
Ambassador: First, I'd like to congratulate my French and Chinese friends for this very successful China Year in France and France Year in China. I believe that the official visit of their Majesties - the King and Queen to China next year will provide us an opportunity to organize cultural and other events that give the Chinese a window or opportunity to know about Belgium.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador does Belgium recognize China' market economy status?
Ambassador: I understand very well your question. Actually this is a question which rests with the Commission. It's a technical question. It is not a political question. And the Commission is for the moment waiting answers from the Chinese side on certain given questions. It is a responsibility not for a single country but for the whole commission.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador I have a question for you. In today's world which country has the closest ties with the US.
Ambassador: I think that is a question you might better ask the US. But let me add that no doubt the European Union, my country are allies of Washington but it does not mean we have an agreement on everything.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador if there were a war across the Taiwan Strait would that affect the trade, economic relations between China and Belgium? And what is the prospect?
Ambassador: First of all let's hope that wisdom prevails. We are all behind the "one China" policy. This demands sophisticated constraints and management. I congratulate China for the way it is dealing with this problem. And I am a believer that nobody should intervene in this internal Chinese affair.
Netizen: Mr. Ambassador what is your personal relationship with friends in the Chinese political and business circles. Would you give us an example because in China, you know, we judge a person by his friends.
Ambassador: I know that very well. Let me say that I fell privileged to have long-time friends in the west and China. I have learned how complex it is to gain friendship with a Chinese. But when you crossed the threshold you have a friend for life.
By People's Daily Online