China-Sweden relations beyond 60 years

07:58, May 27, 2010      

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China-Sweden relations is not restricted to 60 years, behind it there has been over 300 years contacts between the two countries, said Sinologist and Professor Torbjorn Loden, who is also the Principal of Nordic Confucius Institute.

"As far as I know, Sweden's contacts with China began with trade and culture. At the early stage, Sweden was affected more by China than it affected China," Loden said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

As early as 17th century, Swedish people began to trade with China and the first Swede who wrote about China was a sailor whose name was Nils Matson Kioping. He travelled with the boat of Gothenburg to South China in 1654 and wrote some stories about China when he came back, Loden said.

"The first published dissertation about China was China's Great Wall written by Jonas Matthiae Locnaus(1671-1754) from Uppsala University in 1694. The article discussed the Great Wall, its importance and Chinese people's creativity," Loden recalled.

The influence of China came with the East India Company's boats which transported large amount of porcelain, tea and silk to Sweden. These products were a symbol of development and luxury life at that time, which helped create a craze about China.

"Thanks to Swedish Queen Lovisa Ulrika(1720-1772) who was deeply influenced by French enlightenment thinker and philosopher Voltaire, Sweden was influenced by Chinese thoughts because Voltaire was pro-Chinese philosophy and thought China was a model country ruled by philosophers," Loden said.

In 1753 when Ulrika was 33 years old, her husband secretly built a China pavilion for her and let her 8 year old son give her the key.

The queen formed Swedish Royal Academy of History and Archeology. Voltaire was a fellow. Now the area has been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

"The East Asian Museum in Stockholm was established by archeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson who helped excavated the Peking man in Beijing's southwest Zhoukoudian. Famous Swedish explorer and geographer Sven Hedin had been in Tibet and Xinjiang as well as Inner and outer Mongolia and helped draw maps of these areas in the late 19th century and early 20th century," Loden said.

In an Island east of Stockholm, one can find it named as Kang Youwei Island, a name which is well-known in Chinese history. Kang Youwei led a reform movement in 1898 but failed in the Qing Dynasty.

The Gothenburg boat which sank over 200 years ago was brought out and a replica was built. As a witness of bilateral relations, the boat successfully revisited China along its original route around the world in 2006.

"East Indie Company played an important role in cultural and trade exchanges between Sweden and China," Loden said.

From 1731 to 1806, East India boats travelled 130 times between Gothenburg and Guangzhou, China. The contact was fairly frequent.

Professor Loden said that one of the vanguards to introduce Chinese language and culture to Sweden was Bernhard Karlgren who began with pronunciations of Chinese dialect. He came to Shanxi provincial capital Taiyuan, north China to study Chinese in 1910- 1911. His study on pronunciation was outstanding and his translation of book of poems and Lao Zi's Morality among many others have greatly promoted the spread of Chinese culture.

All these contacts and understanding about China made it the smoothest to establish diplomatic relations with China, and thus Sweden became the first Western country to establish ambassadorial relations with new China.

After China's reform and opening up, more and more Swedish people visit China every year. In recent years, more and more Chinese begin to visit Sweden too. Mutual investment are increasing. Chinese investment in Sweden increased by 40 times over the past 10 years, Loden said.

"Finally, the establishment and development of Nordic Confucius Institute is also a great symbol and tool of promoting the friendship and close relations between the two sides," Loden said.

As Vice President Xi Jinping pointed out during his visit to Sweden in March that China and Sweden will further deepen their cooperation. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt also echoed with Xi and expressed the wish that Sweden-China relations will definitely be further deepened and go beyond 60 years.

This May marks the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Sweden.



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