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The Foreign Ministers's Speech at Reception on The Occasion of The 60 Year Anniversary of The Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between Denmark and China

Foreign Minister Lene Espersen’s Opening Speech at Reception on the Occasion on the 60 Year Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between Denmark and China, May 11th 2010 at Eigtveds Pakhus.

Ambassador Xie, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to open today’s reception on the occasion of the 60- year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Denmark and China.

Denmark was one of the very first countries to establish diplomatic relations with China, and I am extremely pleased with the fact that Denmark was a “first mover” in getting the official relations between our two countries off the ground quickly.

For some countries, China is considered the new frontier or a vast country to be explored practically from scratch. But for Danes, the relationship with China has in fact been important for a very long time. Our ties can be dated back to 1674, where diplomatic notes were exchanged between Emperor Kangxi [Kangsji] and King Christian the Fifth. The first Danish ship docked in Canton in 1731 and, ever since, Danes have travelled to South China to buy tea, silk, spices, porcelain and so on. The first Danish Consulate in China was established in Canton already in 1820. Denmark was also a “first mover” in recognizing and establishing relations with the People’s Republic of China. Today, our cooperation comprises a broad range of activities, and it is developing rapidly.

Fortunately, Denmark is also a well known country in China not least thanks to our national poet, Hans Christian Andersen. In fact, I am told that Hans Christian Andersen – or An-Tu-Sjæng as he is known in Mandarin – might be more well-known in China than in Denmark! The fact that Edvard Eriksen’s famous statue of the Little Mermaid is featured in the centre of the Danish Pavilion at EXPO 2010 has generated a lot of attention in China as we have seen just now in the live coverage from Shanghai. Allowing the Little Mermaid to set sail for China is perhaps the clearest example of the importance, we attach to our friendship with China. Let me remind you Ladies and Gentlemen - the Little Mermaid has never left Denmark before! We are of course very pleased that our national pavilion has been so well received by the Chinese public.

Since the “Reform and Opening Up Process” began in China 31 years ago, the commercial ties between Denmark and China have expanded and developed at a healthy pace. This is also witnessed by the impressive number of representatives from so many large and small Danish companies that are here today. Today, more than 400 Danish companies are active in China with production, sales and - increasingly - research and development. At the same time we are pleased to note that Chinese companies are now gradually investing and establishing themselves in Denmark to the benefit of both countries.

And just as we have become close political partners in our efforts to combat climate change, I am confident that this collaboration will spark an even closer cooperation between Danish and Chinese companies. Denmark offers valuable experience and technologies in relation to energy efficiency, alternative energy and cleantech. As China embarks upon realising her ambitious energy targets, we may benefit mutually from an even closer cooperation in clean technology.

Commercial ties between our two countries will undoubtedly benefit from next week’s visit to Denmark by the Chinese Minister for Trade, Mr. Chen Deming, who will be heading the largest ever Chinese business delegation to Denmark. Minister Chen Deming and the delegation are expected to visit Copenhagen from May 16 to May 18.

We also see a lot of progress at the people-to-people level. More and more Danish citizens study Chinese language. Young business people from Denmark flock to Shanghai and other coastal cities to try their luck and test their business skills in the Chinese economic miracle. At the same time, the number of Chinese students who choose to study in Danish universities and business schools is growing rapidly. Future generations will therefore have a lot of “culture ambassadors” both in Denmark and China. The more, the merrier!

During the recent visit by the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen to China, it was agreed to establish a Danish university in Beijing in cooperation with the well-known Chinese university “Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences” (GUCAS). The university will strengthen academic exchanges and cooperation between Danish and Chinese professors, researchers and students and will undoubtedly result in more students exchanges as well.

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As I close my remarks, let me reiterate the basic point that Denmark and China – although very different in size and with a different political system – can and will benefit from closer cooperation in a lot of new areas. I see the basis for a strong and expanding partnership as we take on the challenges and explore the opportunities in front of us. We are looking very much forward to further developing and expanding the rewarding and fruitful cooperation between Denmark and China in the years to come.

Thank you for listening. “Sjæ-sjæ dar djia”