China and the Netherlands on Monday appealed for global efforts to promote free trade and safeguard multilateralism in order to tackle the common challenges confronting the world.
In a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague, visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that the two countries will cement consensus and work together with all sides to boost free trade and further improve the multilateral trading system against the backdrop of growing uncertainties.
“Free trade is not a rejection of fair trade,” Li said. “Without free trade, there is no fair trade; while without fair trade, free trade will not gain sustainable development.”
As for multilateralism, Li said, it does not mean disrespect for country-to-country relations, but a promotion to the democratization of international politics.
Li reiterated China’s determination to be more open to the world, saying that his country will continue to expand its markets for Dutch investments in such areas as agriculture and services.
Answering a question on a recent China-Germany agreement over the building of a chemical production site in China, Li said China’s new policy to further open up its basic manufacturing sector by removing foreign ownership restrictions is applicable to all.
“The policy is not just for some specific companies of some specific countries,” he said, adding that some European enterprises are among the first that benefit from the policy.
China will further liberalize its financial services market and expand market access in manufacturing and services industries, Li told the press.
He said he hopes that companies from all over the world can seize the opportunities brought by the new round of reform and opening up in China so as to achieve win-win results and common development.
Under the current circumstances, Li said China and the Netherlands need to open markets wider to each other, deepen cooperation in traditional industries including agriculture and energy, and seek new cooperation in such fields as hi-tech manufacturing and services.
During their talks, the two leaders agreed to further enhance cooperation between their countries against climate change, population ageing and other global challenges.
China is willing to discuss with the Netherlands to open its senior service industry, Li said.
For his part, Rutte urged all big countries to work collectively on an open, fair and multilateral trading system, saying that the Netherlands and China will make joint efforts to cope with global challenges.
“Free and fair trade is about not only how we can share the cake, it is also about how we can make the cake bigger,” Rutte said.
Speaking highly of the two countries’ fruitful cooperation in various areas and joint efforts in dealing with challenges such as climate change, Rutte said the Netherlands will work with China to further promote bilateral ties and cooperation.
Li is on an official visit to the European country. During his three-day stay, he will also meet with Dutch King Willem-Alexander as well as parliamentary leaders. The premier is also set to visit a hi-tech exhibition and address a business forum in The Hague.
The visit to the Netherlands is Li’s first as Chinese premier and also the first by a Chinese premier in 14 years.