China, Netherlands eye more open, pragmatic cooperation to safeguard multilateralism, free trade

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) holds talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague, the Netherlands, Oct. 15, 2018. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

China and the Netherlands on Monday pledged to jointly safeguard multilateralism and free trade by carrying out more open and pragmatic cooperation, against the backdrop of a complicated international situation with increasing uncertainties.

The pledge was made as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague.

By doing so, positive signals will be sent to the world that China, the Netherlands as well as Europe are maintaining a rules-based international order and are committed to the facilitation and liberalization of trade and investment, Li said.

On the reform of the World Trade Organization, Li said China is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with the Netherlands on the issue.

The reform should be conducted in accordance with principles of free trade and openness, Li said, adding that it should also preserve the legitimate rights of developing countries and mitigate the North-South divide.

The reform should be non-exclusive and based upon consultations and consensus, rather than being decided by a few countries, he said, noting that it should proceed in an orderly way based on mutual understanding and mutual accommodation.

On climate change, Li said China remains steadfast in upholding the Paris Agreement and will make great efforts to implement its promises, calling on all parties to stick to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and accommodate the legitimate concerns of developing countries.

Hailing the sound development of bilateral ties, Li said China and the Netherlands have maintained close high-level exchanges in recent years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Dutch King Willem-Alexander have visited each other's country, which greatly promote the comprehensive cooperative partnership that stresses openness and pragmatism between the two countries, he said.

Li said China is willing to learn the Dutch experience in managing an ageing society and establishing cooperation mechanisms in areas such as urbanization, elder care and clean energy technologies.

The premier said China will deepen reforms and opening-up, and the country is willing to expand cooperation with the Netherlands on all fronts in the spirit of openness and inclusiveness, as well as mutual learning and mutual benefit.

China welcomes Dutch companies to increase investment and share the dividend of China's new round of opening up and high-quality development, Li said.

For his part, Rutte said the Netherlands attaches great importance to its ties with China and is willing to strengthen political trust and deepen practical cooperation between the two countries.

He said the Netherlands looks forward to tapping potentials for cooperation in areas including circular economy, urbanization and smart city with China and expand cooperation in third-party markets.

The Netherlands stands ready to work with China on global issues such as combating climate change, as well as sharing experience in elder care, personnel training and e-health against the background of an ageing society, Rutte said.

The Netherlands also would like to strengthen communication and coordination with China in multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations and the G20, Rutte said, adding that the two countries are jointly committed to preserving rules-based multilateralism and free trade.

The two sides also exchanged opinions on international and regional issues of common concern.

After the talks, Li and Rutte witnessed the signing of documents of bilateral cooperation in areas including economy, trade, finance, energy and agriculture.

In a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague, visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that the two countries will cement consensus and work together with all sides to boost free trade and further improve the multilateral trading system against the backdrop of growing uncertainties.

"Free trade is not a rejection of fair trade," Li said. "Without free trade, there is no fair trade; while without fair trade, free trade will not gain sustainable development."

As for multilateralism, Li said, it does not mean disrespect for country-to-country relations, but a promotion to the democratization of international politics.

Li reiterated China's determination to be more open to the world, saying that his country will continue to expand its markets for Dutch investments in such areas as agriculture and services.

Answering a question on a recent China-Germany agreement over the building of a chemical production site in China, Li said China's new policy to further open up its basic manufacturing sector by removing foreign ownership restrictions is applicable to all.

"The policy is not just for some specific companies of some specific countries," he said, adding that some European enterprises are among the first that benefit from the policy.

China will further liberalize its financial services market and expand market access in manufacturing and services industries, Li told the press.

He said he hopes that companies from all over the world can seize the opportunities brought by the new round of reform and opening-up in China so as to achieve win-win results and common development.

Under the current circumstances, Li said China and the Netherlands need to open markets wider to each other, deepen cooperation in traditional industries including agriculture and energy, and seek new cooperation in such fields as hi-tech manufacturing and services.

During their talks, the two leaders agreed to further enhance cooperation between their countries against climate change, population ageing and other global challenges.

China is willing to discuss with the Netherlands to open its senior service industry, Li said.

For his part, Rutte urged all big countries to work collectively on an open, fair and multilateral trading system, saying that the Netherlands and China will make joint efforts to cope with global challenges.

"Free and fair trade is about not only how we can share the cake, it is also about how we can make the cake bigger," Rutte said.

Speaking highly of the two countries' fruitful cooperation in various areas and joint efforts in dealing with challenges such as climate change, Rutte said the Netherlands will work with China to further promote bilateral ties and cooperation.

Li is on an official visit to the European country. During his three-day stay, he will also meet with Dutch King Willem-Alexander as well as parliamentary leaders. The premier is also set to visit a hi-tech exhibition and address a business forum in The Hague.

The visit to the Netherlands is Li's first as Chinese premier and also the first by a Chinese premier in 14 years.

Editor: 曹家宁