2007 marks a year of historic significance in Sino-Swedish relations since Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Sweden in June. In a written interview with People's Daily Online Correspondent in Stockholm, Xuefei Chen, Chinese Ambassador Lu Fengding said that Sino-Swedish relations will enter a more prosperous period.
Q：How do you comment on the Sino-Swedish relations over the past year?
Chinese Ambassador to Sweden Lu Fengding
A: The year 2007 witnesses the all-round development of Sino-Swedish relations. First of all, the bilateral high-level exchanges have been strengthened. In particular, the State Visit by President Hu Jintao to Sweden was the first State Visit made by Chinese Head of State to Sweden ever since the establishment of bilateral relations and the visit is of great significance. There were also some other bilateral visits, for example, the visits to China by Swedish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Enterprises Maud Olofsson, Minister for International Trade Sten Tolgfors and Minister for Science and Education Lars Leijonborg, the visits to Sweden from China by Mr. Li Zhaozhuo, vice-chairman of China's CPPCC (Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) and Mr. Chen Zhu, Minister of Health. These high-level visits have played important roles to enhance the mutual understanding, trust and cooperation.
Secondly, the bilateral trade has been further expanded. By the end of October 2007, the trade volume has reached 7.1 billion US dollars, equivalent to the total volume of last year. China maintains the biggest trade partner of Sweden in Asia. Meanwhile the mutual investments also continue to increase. The investment by Sweden to China has overreached 2.3 billion US dollars. The investment by Chinese companies to Sweden has also increased greatly. The mutual cooperation in economic and technological fields has been further enhanced.
Thirdly, the exchange and cooperation in the fields of culture, education, healthcare, technology and tourism have also developed. The visits by Chinese Kunqu Troupe, Xinjiang Cultural Week Troupe and several other cultural groups' visits to Sweden have been widely welcomed by the Swedish general public.
Fourthly, the two sides have kept close contacts in international affairs and the cooperation on many major issues in safeguarding world peace and promoting development has also been strengthened.
What is more, the interest among the Swedes to enhance the friendship and cooperation with China has become more and more enhanced, which lays a wider and more stable foundation for the further development of bilateral relations. Q: What kind of role will President Hu's visit play for future bilateral relations?
A: The State Visit by President Hu Jintao to Sweden in June is an important issue with milestone significance in the course of Sino-Swedish relations.
During the visit, President Hu met and held discussions with the Swedish King, Speaker of the Parliament and the Prime Minister. The two sides reached wide consensus on bilateral and international issues of common concern and signed five documents of cooperation including "Memorandum of Understanding on Corporate Social Responsibility"and "Memorandum of Understanding on the Environmental Cooperation". On top of this, President Hu also attended the returning ceremony of the replica ship "Goteborg" and made an important speech at the dinner hosted by the Swedish business community, which was greatly applauded by the Swedish side.
Therefore the visit is not only a climax of the bilateral relations since its establishment of 57 years ago, but also a good beginning of pushing forward the bilateral relations to a new height. I believe that with the concerted efforts of the two sides, the mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples will be further enhanced, the cooperation of mutual cooperation in all fields will be further expanded, and the friendly relations and cooperation of the two countries will enter a new and quicker track of development.Q: If we say that high level visits between China and Sweden have been very fruitful, I like to ask here in which areas China and Sweden cooperated well over the past year and what achievements have been made? In which areas can both sides further cooperate with each other? In the cooperation, what kind of issues the two sides should pay attention to, how can they materialize the good will from both sides?
A: Sweden is the first western country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. The recent two to three years have witnessed several high-level visits between the two countries，showing that the friendly relations and cooperation have developed in depth and height. As a matter of fact, the exchange and cooperation in the past 57 years have been broad and fruitful. The two sides have undertaken very good cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, technological exchanges, education, international peacekeeping and fighting against trade protectionism and both sides hope to strengthen the cooperation. During President Hu Jintao's visit, the two sides have reached many consensuses and signed documents of cooperation; all those are the result of the friendly discussion and sincere cooperation. In September, the health departments of both countries signed the "Action Plan for the Health Cooperation from 2007 to 2009"with the aim of enhancing cooperation mainly in the fields of infectious disease prevention, health care for elderly people and long-distance medical care. At the second "China-Sweden Science Week" in Beijing, the two sides have made discussions on the issues of technological innovation and the R & D of new energy, and have reached some ideas of preliminary cooperation.
We think that the fields for further cooperation of mutual benefit for China and Sweden are broad, and the two sides have strong willingness for the cooperation. The key is to uphold the principal of equality and mutual benefit, make full use of the advantages of each side. At present the Swedish side is very eager to enhance cooperation with the Chinese side in the fields of sustainable energy, environmental protection and telecommunication. The two sides can list these areas as main points, make more contacts and discuss the possibility of strengthening cooperation in the fields mentioned above and some other fields as well. Q: In the in-depth bilateral relations, is there any issue which is worthy of further discussion or exploration? Please give some examples.
A: In general, China and Sweden do not have historical resentment, or fundamental conflicts of interest. Therefore, there is no big obstacle for the two countries to develop friendly relations and cooperation. This is one of the reasons that Sweden is the first Western country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. And the bilateral relations have been very stable. If I mention some areas which need to be further developed, they are the need for the development of relations to be quicker and deeper. For instance, the trade volume should be further augmented, the mutual investment especially Sweden's investment in China should be increased, the technological transfer especially the Swedish technological transfer should be enhanced. Of course there are many reasons behind it. But I believe that if there are fewer disturbances of ideological factors, and if the Swedish side has fewer misunderstanding and bias of China on such issues as human rights and others, the bilateral relations and mutual cooperation will enjoy more fruitful and more satisfying results. Q: What's your comment on the prospects of bilateral relations in the future? How can Sino-Swedish relations affect Sino-European relations?
A: Even though China and Sweden are far from each other in geographical distance, with different social systems and at different periods of economic development, both sides are making efforts to safeguard world peace, promote human developments and strengthen all-round development of each country. The two countries share wide complementarities of social and economic developments, and the further development of friendly relations and cooperation of the two sides on the basis of Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples. The bilateral relations in the past 57 years have proved this. Thus I think the friendly relations and cooperation have good foundations, enormous potential and broad prospect. In particular, with the pushing forward by President Hu Jintao's visit in June, the bilateral relations will enter a new period of prosperous development.
Sweden is an important member of the EU. It is very conspicuous that the developments of Sino-Swedish and Sino-EU relations will affect each other. I think in recent years the two relations have developed simultaneously and affect each other in a positive way. In particular Sweden holds free trade principle in EU, opposes some EU countries to set limits of China's export of textile products and shoes to EU, these have played a positive role in enhancing Sino-EU and Sino-Swedish relations. It is our hope that the Swedish Government continue to attach importance to the further development of relations with China, continue to support the EU to develop All-round Strategic Partnership with China, and play a more positive and constructive role in further and deeper strengthening of Sino-EU relations.