In 2013, bilateral relations between the People's Republic of China and the Kingdom of the Netherlands enjoyed smooth development, and their cooperation in political, business, cultural, people-to-people and military fields yielded fruitful results.
The two countries maintained frequent high-level exchanges with deepened political mutual trust. In March, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Prime Minister Mark Rutte sent congratulatory messages respectively to President Xi Jinping on his election. In May, President Xi sent a congratulatory message to His Majesty King Willem- Alexander of the Netherlands on his ascending to the throne. Prime Minister Rutte and Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans sent messages of sympathy to Premier Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the earthquake in Lushan, Sichuan Province. From 15 to 16 November, Prime Minister Rutte paid his first official visit to China. Premier Li Keqiang had talks with him and President Xi Jinping and NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang met him respectively. During the visit, Chinese leaders and Prime Minister Rutte had in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral relations, China-Europe relations and regional and international hotspot issues of shared interest. A number of key officials and delegations from the Netherlands visited China, including Ms. Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ms. Edith Ingeborg Schippers, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, the delegation of the Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Second Chamber of the States-General and the delegation of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. The intensity of visits to China in one calendar year was unprecedented, and the visits achieved positive outcomes.
Business ties maintained a sound momentum of growth and two-way trade and investment continued to expand steadily. According to Chinese statistics, trade volume between the two countries in 2013 was US$70.15 billion, registering a year-on-year increase of 3.8%. Since 2010, Chinainvested projects in the Netherlands had been the second largest in number among those with foreign investment, next only to the projects with US investment. The number of China-invested enterprises and projects in the Netherlands stood at about 380. Business, finance, environmental protection and energy cooperation became more diversified. In November, the Shale Oil Joint Research Center co-established by China National Petroleum Corporation and Shell was officially established, unveiling the shale gas joint research program between China and the Netherlands.
The two countries had frequent people-to-people and cultural exchanges and their bilateral relationship enjoyed stronger public support. China and the Netherlands decided to open consulates-general in Willemstrad and Chongqing. A number of activities showcasing fine Chinese culture were staged in the Netherlands, including "Happy Chinese New Year", participation in the Flower Parade, exhibition of replicas of Terracotta Warriors, Peking Opera Festival, exhibition of cultural relics from Ming Dynasty and the "China Day" activities. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra performed in China. Amsterdam was the official Guest City of the Beijing Design Week, and Dutch Artist Florentijn Hofman's "Rubber Duck" visited Mainland China and Hong Kong, attracting a large number of viewers. About 200,000 Chinese tourists visited the Netherlands, making China its largest source of tourists in Asia. The Amsterdam Airport Schiphol had seven regular air routes to China, top among European airports.
Military exchanges made new progress. General Hou Shusen, PLA Deputy Chief of the General Staff, and General Wang Jianping, Commander of the Chinese People's Armed Police Force, visited the Netherlands respectively. In April, Lieutenant-General Hans Leijtens, Commander of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, visited China, marking the first formal exchanges between the Chinese People's Armed Police and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee and breaking new ground in military exchanges between China and the Netherlands. In November, General Tom Middendrop, Chief of Defense visited China.
By the end of 2013, China and the Netherlands have forged 26 pairs of sister-province/city relations.