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Ambassador Song Zhe Delivers Speech at Vrije Univesiteit Brussel
2008-05-16 00:00

In the afternoon of 16 May 2008, H.E. Mr. Song Zhe, Ambassador and Head of the Mission of the People's Republic of China delivered a formal speech entitled China-EU Relations and China's Current Developments and Policies at the prestigious university of Vrije Univesiteit Brussel at invitation of VUB and Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies (BICCS). The audiences mainly include officials of the EU institutions and the Belgian Government as well as representatives from famous think tanks in Brussles, business leaders and major European media.

Rector Benjamin Van Camp of Vrije Univesiteit Brussel first made a welcoming address. He praised the speed, depth and breadth of the development of China-EU relations. He noted the fruitful progress made by China and the EU in their cooperation in the economic, trade, cultural, educational and other fields, by overcoming differences in political systems and traditions and making full use of respective strengths. VUB established regular exchange mechanisms with many universities of China. Director Gustaaf of BICCS noted in his address that China-EU relations is important among EU's relations with major countries of the world and it is showing enormous vitality and potential in an age of globalization, which is why there is increasing attention over China in Europe. BICCS, as the only academic institution in Belgium focusing on China studies, will continue to serve as a bridge between cooperation of the two sides.

In his speech, Ambassador Song briefed on his recent trip to Beijing for preparation of President Barroso's visit to China. He stated that China-EU relations are now transcending bilateral scope and acquiring more and more global strategic significance. It is important for China and the EU to seize the opportunities for development of China-EU relations, dissolve challenges, always view and handle China-EU relations from a strategic perspective, deepen pragmatic cooperation, properly address differences and disagreements, so as to ensure the healthy and steady progress of China-EU strategic partnership for the benefit of Chinese and European people.

Ambassador Song elaborates on thirty years of reform and opening up in China in terms of economic achievements, experiences and current problems in economic development. He pointed out that there are six major tasks for China's development at present and in a certain period to come, namely to ensure sound and rapid economic growth, change development model, make overall considerations for coordinated development, build resource-saving and environmental friendly society, improve people's lives and advance reform and institutional innovation.

Ambassador concluded that China cannot achieve its development in isolation of the world, nor will the world sustain its development in the absence of China. China will unswervingly pursue a path of peaceful development and a mutually beneficial and win-win strategy of opening up and make even greater contribution to world peace and common development. (Please see full text)

Before making the formal speech, Ambassador Song especially briefed on the latest situation of earthquake, which struck China's Sichuan Province. He stated that "on Monday 12th, a powerful earthquake struck China's Sichuan province, causing tremendous loss of lives and property. As of this morning, the earthquake already claimed a total of 20,000 lives, and the death toll may rise further. The Chinese Government made the most rapid emergency response the world has ever seen. The Central Government promptly ordered deployment of rescue and relief operations. Premier Wen Jiabao flew to the disaster-hit area immediately and commanded the rescue operation in the field. Yesterday, Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Sichuan for field inspection and command of rescue operations. President Hu saluted the courageous rescuers for their hard work and expressed sympathy and solicitude to the victims of the earthquake. Officers and soldiers of the People's Liberation Army and armed police are marching over mountains to access the frontline of the disaster-hit area. At present, rescue operations are proceeding in a competent, orderly and effective way. The wounded people receive timely treatment and relief. We are confident that under the Chinese Government leadership, with joint efforts of the Chinese people and support from the international community, the Chinese people will prevail and re-emerge from the ruins. Yesterday, I saw two heart-touching pictures on TV. One fireman had bleeding hands after saving many lives, but he pleaded, "Let me go on and more will be rescued". Another scene was a CCTV news moderator shed tears in live broadcast when he said "why do we come and help each other, because this land and its people believe in care and help and we will see loved ones coming back." Even the strongest people cannot hold back tears before such outpouring of love. I shed tears too, because my love in this land is so deep."

Ambassador Song stated that "the hearts of the Chinese people are with the earthquake, so are the hearts of the European People. Shortly after the event, many European leaders sent messages of condolence to Chinese leaders. European friends expressed care and support in various ways. As a Chinese saying goes, genuine friendship is tested by adversities. Disaster only brings even closer the hearts of the Chinese and European people and shows how deep is the friendly sentiments of the European people towards the Chinese people. Here, I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all European friends for your care and support to China!"

Following the speech, Ambassador Song also answered questions from the audience on China-EU relations, China-EU economic cooperation and trade, China's cooperation with Africa and China's foreign assistance. Many listeners commended Ambassador's speech and pointed out that the lecture was informative, timely and the answers were very persuasive and focused with vivid examples. Through Ambassador's speech, they were deeply touched by the effective measures taken by the Chinese Government in the rescue operations after the earthquake and the spirit of mutual help and unity displayed by the Chinese people. They also expressed that they gained new insights into the importance of China-EU comprehensive and strategic partnership and its future development direction.

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