Home > China & Denmark Relations
Speech by Ambassador Li Ruiyu at Øregård Gymnasium

Dear Principal Pia Nyring,

Dear teachers and students,

Good morning!

As it is often said in China, a near neighbour is better than a distant cousin. Øregård Gymnasium is just a near neighbour to the Chinese Embassy, so I feel very much at home here being with you. As far as I know, our Embassy also received, in the past, guests from this school who wanted to learn about China's economic and social development. Principal Nyring has informed me that all the Danish students present today are somehow engaged with China too. Some of you are learning the Chinese language and others planning a trip to China next year. So it is more than a pleasure for me to have this opportunity to meet and talk with you.

It is also more than a pleasure for me to meet here with teachers and students coming afar from China's RenDaFuZhong Xishan (人大附中西山) School. On behalf of the Embassy, I would like to express our warmest welcome to you. I hope and believe this visit will help you better understand Denmark and the Danish society, and help you get to know more about the strength and charm of this country.

Young people are masters of the future. The future of our two countries lies in you young people, and some of you, if not all, will probably have the chance to participate in the future development of bilateral relations as well. So today, I would like to focus my speech on China-Denmark relations, from which, I hope, you can feel how I see Denmark as it is.

Speaking of the relationship, I would sum it up with three points: a long history, a comprehensive partnership and a deep friendship.

Let’s begin with a touch of the history. As you may know, the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, and in 1950, Denmark recognized the new China and thus became one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with China. But what you may not know is that the history of bilateral exchanges can be dated back to the 17th century. The then Danish King, Christian the Fifth, wrote to Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty in 1674 with the proposal to establish relations through shipping and bilateral trade. Late that year, Denmark sent its first merchant ship “Fortuna” to China, which sailed for about 2 years and reached Fujian Province in late 1676. A Danish trade lodge was established there and thus started trade relations between the two countries. And as early as in 1863, China and Denmark signed the first formal bilateral Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation. I should be frank that although the treaty was to boost Denmark's trade position vis-a-vis China, this was not an equal treaty as it granted Denmark extra-territorial rights. It was not until 1950 that our two countries entered into a relationship on a real equal basis, and throughout the years, the relations have made much progress. In particular, Denmark is the first Nordic country to establish with China a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. That was five years ago and now this partnership is developing well, which brings me to my second point, the comprehensive partnership.

Some of you may have noted that our two countries have had quite frequent high-level exchange of visits in most recent years. In June last year, the former Chinese President Mr. Hu Jintao visited Denmark. It was actually the first state visit by the Chinese President to Denmark ever since our two countries established diplomatic relations 63 years ago, and President Hu was warmly received by the Danish Royal Family, government, parliament and all sectors of the Danish society. In June this year, the Chairman of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Mr. Yu Zhengsheng visited Denmark. This time, it is the first high-level visit to Denmark since the new Chinese leadership was in place last year, and the visit reflects the great importance our new government attaches to Denmark. In return, the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and over 10 other cabinet members have visited China to maintain close contact with the Chinese leadership and further discuss bilateral cooperation in all fields. These high level exchanges have created good atmosphere and constitute an important political force to push bilateral relations ahead.

As for trade, China today is Denmark's largest partner in Asia, and Denmark is China's third largest trade partner and technology transferer among the Nordic countries. Sino-Danish trade have grown over 3000 times, from only 3 million US dollars in 1950 to 9.44 billion dollars last year. For most young people in China today, such brands as JACK﹠JONES, ONLY and VERO MODA are nothing unfamiliar. Many Chinese people also love Danish butter cookies and Carlsberg beer, while in Denmark, commodities “Made in China” are almost everywhere. I would say that a win-win spirit is of great importance to boost our commercial relations and our long tradition of commercial cooperation also plays a role here.

The Chinese and the Danes have good impressions of each other. The fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen are popular among Chinese children for generations. And a famous old saying in Denmark goes that little Danes dream of reaching China at the other side of the world by digging a hole on the earth. Today our two sides enjoy very active cultural and people-to-people exchanges. In 2010, the "Little Mermaid" attended Shanghai Expo in China as her first ever visit abroad, which attracted 5.58 million visitors. And Denmark has welcomed "China Spring Festival Performance" for 12 consecutive years with wide participation of the Danish people. We have already 11 pairs of sister cities or provinces between our two countries, and China's first cultural center in the Nordic region is to be set up in Copenhagen, which will create a new platform for cultural exchanges between our peoples.

Let me talk a bit more on education. In fact, quite some well-known people in China haved received higher education in Denmark, such as the current state leader, Vice Chairperson of the National People’s Congress, Madame Yan Junqi, the nuclear physicist Mr. Yang Fujia, former President of Tsinghua University Professor Gu Binglin and the Chinese genomics scientist Professor Yang Huanming. In recent years our educational exchanges and cooperation have been expanded continuously. Beijing Foreign Studies University began to offer Danish major in 2008, in order to build up human resources for the development of Sino-Danish relations. The Chinese language teaching is also developing fast in Denmark. Besides, China has established three Confucius Institutes and four Confucius Classrooms in this country. Last year the world's first musical Confucius Institute was established at the Royal Academy of Music which opened up an integrated teaching of Chinese classical music and the language.

Now let me come to the third point, a deep friendship. There are good stories in our bilateral relations, and today I will focus on one particular story about a Danish man named Bernhard Arp Sindberg. 79 years ago, he traveled across the ocean and came to China at the age of 23, and in 1937 he succeeded in getting a job at the Danish company FL Smidth. He was sent to Nanjing by the company and worked for a Cement Plant which was jointly owned by Germany and Denmark. All my Chinese students should know that the Nanjing Massacre happened just in this year when more than 300 thousand Chinese people were killed by the Japanese army. It was the darkest period in late Chinese history.

At that time, Denmark was a neutral country. Mr. Sindberg took advantage of the Danish position to help the Chinese people. He hung a sign of "German-Danish Joint Venture" at the front door of the plant and built several straw houses. In this way, he managed to shelter and accommodate more than 10 thousand Chinese refugees. In order to prevent the Japanese army entering the refugee area, Mr. Sindberg put Danish and German national flags all around the plant. He once said to the Danish media, "I painted on the roof a Danish flag which was about 1,350 square meters big. One can easily see it from the air. I believe it should be the largest Danish flag in history." Because of the poor medical conditions in the Cement Plant, Mr. Sindberg often rode a motorcycle to send the wounded people to hospital in town. It was certainly dangerous for him as he had to find ways to avoid running into the Japanese soldiers. Later on, he recorded the Japanese army’s atrocities and took numerous photos which became historical evidences of the Nanjing Massacre. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mr. Sindberg in 2011, our two countries held grand memorial events, both in Nanjing and his hometown Aarhus, to commemorate this great Danish friend of China, who gave us a warm hand when our people were in desperate need. I believe the story of Mr. Sindberg can best demonstrate the deep friendship between China and Denmark.

Dear students,

Sino-Danish cooperation has come to a high level now and the relationship is becoming more mature, despite certain differences between us on certain issues. Looking ahead, I see huge potentials in our bilateral cooperation, mainly for three reasons.

Firstly, both countries share a strong desire for cooperation. Since I came to Denmark last year, I have widely contacted with Danish people from all sectors including the government, the business community as well as academics and the media. For quite many times like today, I have visited universities and schools and have met a lot of Danish young people. I can feel deeply the strong wish for further developing our friendly relations. In particular, people in the business, education and cultural sectors are so enthusiastic about cooperation that makes the trend of cooperation unstoppable. Many Danish economists and scholars also appeal for deeper economic relations so that Denmark will not miss the opportunities in China’s development. Meanwhile, the general public from both sides are calling for more engagement as well. Department stores in Copenhagen, like Illum and Magasin, have employed Chinese-speaking assistants and started broadcasting in Chinese language to attract more Chinese consumers. It is fair to say that more pragmatic cooperation is a common aspiration.

Secondly, opportunities for cooperation are quite clear. Last November, the Communist Party of China held its 18th National Congress, which not only elected a new leadership of the Party, but more importantly, portrayed a blueprint for China’s future development. Greater importance is attached to the quality of economic growth, to more balance in the economy and to bringing more benefits to the people. “Sustainable development”has become a key phrase in China today.

For Sino-Danish relations, this means a new opportunity for enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation. Last year, the Danish government published a strategy on relations with China to identify key areas for future cooperation. These areas, including climate change, energy, environment protection and health, very well match with China’s priorities for her future development. So there is plenty room for expanding cooperation.

Last but not least, our two countries are highly complementary in our economies and industries. Denmark, although a small country, takes a leading position in areas such as renewable energy, modernized agriculture and bio-pharmacy, with many good concepts and advanced technologies that China can learn from.

I don’t know if my Chinese students have noticed the windmills alongside the coast of Copenhagen. Besides a wonderful view, these windmills provide green electricity to the city. With wind power accounting for 30% of its total power consumption, Denmark is indeed a “Wind Power Kingdom”. China today is probably the largest investor in renewable energy. Many provinces in China are vigorously developing wind power and they cooperate closely with relevant Danish enterprises to learn and share technologies and experiences.

Green building is another area that Denmark is strong at. Not long ago, I attended the inauguration ceremony of the new UN City in Copenhagen. Some very good green ideas have been applied in the construction of this new building. For example, its cooling system is supported by seawater instead of electricity, as this building is located just by the sea. There are 1,400 solar panels installed on the roof, which can generate as much electricity as 300 thousand kilowatt-hours per year. Besides, rain water can be collected to flush toilets. China now faces a fast growing housing demand and numerous houses are under construction. It means a lot for China to learn the Danish experience and Danish technologies in energy efficiency building will have a big market in China.

Dear Students,

The coming 20 to 30 years will be crucial to both our countries in our development. Today in China, people are talking much about the “Chinese Dream”proposed by President Xi Jinping. In different historical periods, the Chinese people have different dreams. During the Opium War and afterwards, China suffered from a decline in power and was invaded by other powers. At that time, the Chinese people dreamed for peace and stability. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, especially since the reform and opening-up, the major Chinese dream is to make our country strong and prosper, to have the renewal of the nation and to bring a better life to the people. This dream is a dream of the country and the whole nation. It is also a dream of every individual Chinese. It is not something illusory. From an individual perspective, just as President Xi Jinping once put it, the dream is to have more stable job, more satisfactory income, more reliable social security including better medical and health services, better education, more comfortable living condition and more beautiful environment. For our children, we hope they will grow better, work better and live better.

Of course, not only China, but also Denmark and all other countries in the world have their own dreams. While different peoples may have different dreams at different times, the overall hope for economic development, political transparency, social harmony and people’s happiness must be common. There is a Chinese movie called "梦想照进现实"--"dreams may come", and later the name of this movie becomes a popular saying among the people. My dear students, I would say that you young people can play an important role in making dreams come true, as you will have more opportunities to realize your personal values, to demonstrate your talents and to realize your ambitions. I hope you will have a sense of mission, work hard to accomplish your study at school, integrate your personal dreams with the development of your country, and work together to make the world a better place. Thank you.

Suggest To A Friend: