Spring til indhold

Ministerens tale til Kinas nationaldag, den 25. september 2018

Ambassador, distinguished guests

Today we celebrate the 69th National Day of the People’s Republic of China. This year also mark the 10 year’s anniversary of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Denmark. 69 years can seem like a long time – but Chinese-European relations go back millennia, and Chinese-Danish trade is centuries old. For many, many years we have learned from each other and affected each other’s cultures.

Few may know the story of Sai-Chiu Van, and that is a shame. He was one of the first Chinese to leave a mark on Danish culture, on Danish everyday life. And his mark can be seen all over the country today. The story of Sai-Chiu Van is an exciting, inspiring and true story about a young Chinese man and his unpredictable fairytale in Denmark.

In 1935, Sai-Chiu Van – his friends just called him Van – left his home in Shanghai, and by boat and train he came to Denmark to study the advanced Danish agriculture.  His aim was to return home after a few years to help his father run his business. But while Van studied in Denmark, the Second Sino-Japanese War began, and it became impossible for him to return to Shanghai. So he decided to study some more.

By bike, he crisscrossed Denmark, studied and worked – and one day he fell in love with a Danish girl. Still not able to return, Van realized that he might have to stay in Denmark for a long, long time, and he decided to try to introduce the Danes to Chinese food.  In the basement of the family’s house, Van experimented with soy sauce and spring rolls - something that was completely unknown in Denmark.  In the beginning, he didn’t sell a lot, and his company – Daloon – was having a hard time.

But one day, the owner of a hot dog stand – or pølsevogn – in the world famous Tivoli Gardens asked Van, if he wanted to sell his spring rolls there. Van gave it a try, and the crispy, hot springs rolls became an instant hit. Overnight, the demand exceeded his supply, and the whole family had to contribute with production and delivery. Van’s little company soon became a large company. He had to move from the basement to real production facilities, and soon he had to build his own factory.

It didn’t take many years for spring rolls to become so popular that the Danes completely forgot that spring rolls had once been too foreign or too strange for their taste. Today, many Danes think that spring rolls is a Danish invention. And today, every child in Denmark knows that Da Loon means big dragon in Chinese. Van told us that in TV commercials for his producs. Sai-Chiu Van died in 2003, 90 years old. He never returned to help his father run the family company. But Van’s own son helped him run Daloon.

Today, all kinds of goods move between Denmark and China with China now being Denmark’s 6th largest trading partner. We still take pride in our fisheries and our agricultural sector which Sai-Chiu Van came here to study almost one hundred years ago, and I hope that our trade will continue to flourish with new possibilities for Danish products in China and Chinese products in Denmark. One of the more impressive and unusual exchanges is due to happen next year when two giant pandas arrive in the Copenhagen Zoo. Their new yin and yang shaped home is almost completed.

I take personal pride in having negotiated that agreement when I was Minister for The Environment and Agriculture. Today, pandas are considered rare and exotic animals, but perhaps one day – like the spring rolls – the Danes will forget that, and who knows, maybe every child will come to know that xiongmao means panda.

Dear Chinese friends, I wish you all a happy national day.