China, Netherlands to expand "concrete cooperation"

China and the Netherlands on Wednesday vowed to boost exchanges between governments, parliaments and parties, expanding cooperation in fields like agriculture, science and technology.

"China values its relations with the Netherlands and hopes to explore the potential for concrete two-way cooperation," said China's top legislator Wu Bangguo, during a meeting with visiting Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen.

Sino-Dutch relations have grown steadily in recent years, with frequent high-level exchanges, said Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

With 2007 marking the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Netherlands, Verhagen said the Dutch government is "satisfied with progress in bilateral ties" and would like to push forward all-round cooperation in the future.

Trade between the Netherlands and China grew rapidly in the past decade. The Netherlands is China's second-largest trading partner in the European Union (EU). Bilateral trade stood at 34.5 billion U.S. dollars last year.

The Netherlands is also one of the largest investors in China. Dutch investment in China totaled 7.7 billion dollars as of November last year.

In an interview with Chinese reporters after meeting with Wu, the Dutch foreign minister spoke highly of China's increasing involvement in regional and international affairs, citing China's role in the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and China's contribution to UN peacekeeping operations.

"China plays an increasingly important role in regional and international affairs," he said.

As to EU arms embargo on China, Verhagen said the position of the Netherlands and the EU is well-known and has not changed.

"We are not against lifting the arms embargo, provided that the context is favorable," he said.

"It is therefore important to continue dialogue on subjects related to international security and the rule of law," Verhagen said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held talks with his Dutch counterpart Verhagen earlier on Wednesday, after which they signed a joint statement on enhancing bilateral cooperation and setting up a mechanism of regular high-level consultation between the two foreign ministries.

Verhagen, who arrived in Beijing Tuesday for a three-day official visit, his first ever trip to China after taking office in February, said his visit "hopefully would lay the groundwork" for the future structure of bilateral relations.

Source: Xinhua



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