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Mr. Gu, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to meet with you here today to share some thoughts and ideas. I am honoured to have been invited to the University of Qinghua, renowned for its many famous scholars and out-standing personalities. Indeed, I will have the pleasure of meeting one of them later today - President Hu Jintao. Mr. Gu and I had the same background as graduates of the University of Aarhus. I am proud to share this background with Mr. Gu.
This is my first visit to China. I have, of course, closely-followed developments in China in recent years and am aware of your history, but that can never be the same as actually being here and seeing your country for myself. First-hand impressions are always the best. And, I must say, after only a couple of days I am already impressed with your optimism, your dynamism and the obvious signs of growth wherever I look. China is definitely a country on the move.
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Though I come here as a Dane, I am also a European. So my view of the world has been shaped not only by the culture and history of my country, Denmark, but also by that of Europe.
I know that, when compared with China, Denmark is a very small country but, like China, Denmark has a centuries-old history and cultural heritage. We are proud of being the oldest monarchy in the world. Denmark has successfully maintained its freedom and independence for more than a thousand years. Not bad for such a small nation.
Admittedly, we have not had a thousand years of peace. We have been at war with all our neighbours at various times in our history. However, the end of the Second World War, some sixty years ago, marked a turning point for Denmark and all of Western Europe. Aware of where national ambitions and international strife had brought us, we embarked on a new journey of economic and political integration. A critical process which continued to evolve in the shadow of the Cold War and the division of Europe into East and West.
Europe has clearly benefited from this process. Although economic growth in Europe may seem modest when compared with that of China, European integration has created a solid foundation for the European economy. It is my firm belief that the European single market and the European currency - the Euro - will make it easier and more profitable for the rest of the world in its economic and commercial dealings with Europe. Which can only be of benefit for future European prosperity.
At present, we are working hard to keep up the momentum of the European Union’s development. This is a gradual process. But “slow and steady wins the race”. We are determined and we know we will reach our goal of European cooperation. And we continue to move forward, never forgetting the equality and diversity of our citizens, regions and states. For - despite our individual differences - as Europeans there are more things which bind us than divide us. We share the same core values and the same beliefs in how to build our societies. We share fundamental values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights and we all adhere to the basic principles of market economy.
We have gone far since we started our journey almost 50 years ago. The next big step in this process will be the historic enlargement of the European Union with ten Central and Eastern European countries in May this year. No longer will Europe be divided into East and West. We will become one Europe. A remarkable achievement by anyone’s standards. And I am proud to say that the final negotiations on enlargement were concluded in Copenhagen during the Danish Presidency of the European Union.
Today, the enlarged European Union might seem to be part of the inevitable course of history. I can assure you that this is not so. Only by dedication, vision, compromise - and hard work - has it been possible to achieve this historic European partnership.
So now Europe is united but, of course, diversities and differences remain. We wouldn’t have it any other way. The future of Europe must be formed with respect for the traditions, for the history and the culture of our individual members. In our diversity lies our strength.
Our future is not without its challenges. The most immediate one being agreement on what we call the European Constitution. We need this Constitution if we are to ensure effective decision-making in a Union of 25 countries.
Another challenge is how to remedy what some people call the “democratic deficit”. In other words, we need to ensure that the European Union is for the benefit of its citizens. The needs and concerns of bureaucrats and institutions must never take precedence over the needs of the people.
This particular challenge is crucial in our “people-first” vision for Europe. A vision based on policies that create better opportunities for both our citizens and our businesses. Without them, Europe cannot realize its potential for growth and prosperity. Without them, Europe cannot stay at the forefront of the global economy in the 21st century. And, without them, Europe cannot carry out its work for peace and stability in the world.
This is my fundamental belief. It is relevant for Europe. And - I am sure -equally relevant for China.
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China has come a long way. When President Bush visited your University two years ago he said: “America welcomes the emergence of a strong and peaceful and prosperous China”.
I can tell you; so does Denmark and so does the European Union.
Both China’s relations with the rest of the world and its global role have changed over the past years. Not only in economic terms. But increasingly at the political level.
The opening of China to the outside world has been a vital factor in China’s economic development. From time to time you hear worried statements in Europe or in the US about the “threat” from China’s growing economy. But I have to tell that I am certainly not one of those lamenting this rapid growth in China. I am a firm believer in the free market and in free and fair competition. Free competition facilitates a sound distribution of labour and supply. Which is in all our interests.
Today, the World Trade Organization provides the most comprehensive framework for global free trade and fair competition. Denmark has been a member of the WTO since it replaced the GATT in 1995 and whole-heartedly supported China becoming a member of the same organisation. Denmark is also keen to see the success of the Doha round of talks.
China’s political standing and importance in the world has increased as a consequence of its reforms and growing economy.
And, as a member of the United Nations and a significant factor in the global economy, China has much to offer in shaping our global future.
However, being a major member of the international community is not only a question of influence. It is also a matter of responsibility. And, in recent years, China has clearly demonstrated that it takes its responsibilities towards its neighbours and the rest of the world very seriously indeed.
But challenges remain in the political field. This is the case for Europe - and it is no less the case for China.
One of the most important tasks for current and future Chinese political leaders is creating and sustaining a stable and prosperous society. A society where the Chinese people can make good use of all their talents and their creativity.
Globalisation has already had an enormous impact, but much more is to come. The free flow of people, commodities, ideas and information will enrich those societies and people who are able to cope with it. And it will leave behind those societies which are unable - or unwilling - to do so.
Under these circumstances the role of government is not to establish rigid regulations and control mechanisms. The role is instead to establish a flexible framework within which individuals and companies can prosper and flourish.
Government must be an instrument of the people - not the other way round. And it must guarantee the rights of the citizen by rule of law and the rule of the vote.
Respect for democracy, human rights, freedom of information, social justice and the equality of citizens is fundamental in the future development of all modern states.
Not just because it is morally the right thing to do. But also because it is a prerequisite for prosperity and sustainable development - not to mention long-term stability and security.
Naturally, all countries are different. In Europe, we cope with challenges in our own way. In China you tackle challenges in a different way, in a manner reflecting Chinese tradition, history and culture. There is no one true path to be followed by all nations. But there are fundamental and universal values to which we must all adhere.
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Ladies and gentlemen, let me turn to the relationship between China and Europe. Despite our differences we have a lot in common. And the prospects for cooperation are increasing.
Both China and the EU are firm believers in the value of multilateral systems and rule-based international cooperation. With China becoming increasingly involved in global matters, there is more scope than ever for comprehensive, international cooperation. And, let’s face it, with problems ranging from international terrorism, SARS and now, Avian Flu, to economic, trade and environmental issues across national borders, we need such cooperation more than ever.
During the last few years, the relationship between China and the EU has intensified significantly. Denmark’s Presidency of the EU in 2002, saw a number of fruitful talks at the highest level between China and the EU and, during the Summit in Beijing last October, the EU and China agreed on a “strategic partnership”.
I welcome this development. It shows that we share a common vision for enhancing our cooperation and that our relationship touches on all economic and social issues affecting the world today. So where should we place our focus? Four areas spring immediately to mind.
Firstly, I would welcome an expansion of political dialogue and, also, a deepening of our human rights dialogue. We fully-appreciate the dialogue concerning human rights, as it now stands, but we are eager to see it produce more tangible results.
The second area concerns trade and its expansion. The embodiment of a strategic partnership would be an even tighter integration of China into the world economy. Our aim should be an even greater flow of trade and investment between China and the EU.
Thirdly, we should improve our cooperation in the fields of science, research and technology through greater cooperation between research institutes and private companies.
Fourthly, we should deepen and broaden contacts between the Chinese and European peoples. By which I mean tourism and student and cultural exchange. Last year we concluded a new agreement between the EU and China enabling Chinese tourists to visit Europe more easily. I am pleased to say that the final details in relation to such an arrangement between China and Denmark were settled yesterday, in Beijing.
In also believe that we should facilitate the free movement of students and researchers between our regions. To allow students from China study in Europe and students from Europe study here in China is a sound investment in the future. Not only for the benefit of the students, but for us all.
I would suggest a possible founding of a European College in Beijing. I think it would be one concrete way of enhancing academic cooperation. We could also introduce EU-China scholarships and student exchange programmes.
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But what of the years ahead? You are the young, coming leaders of China. So I would like to share with you my own visions for the future and I hope that you will carry them with you as part of your future.
In twenty years’ time China will be one of the world’s leading economies. This means that you will have a special role to play on the global stage. For the UN Millennium Goals contain a vision of global welfare. Which is where you come in. The impressive growth in China has lifted millions out of poverty - but many millions still remain under its yoke. The eradication of poverty is vital for the good of the people and the good of the world. Denmark and Europe have already played an important role in reducing poverty in the poorest countries in the world. Indeed, Denmark has been one of the leading donors of development assistance for many years. We believe in the vision of reducing and eradicating poverty. But visions alone are not enough. We will, and must, continue working to make this vision a reality. And China can help the world to achieve the goal of global welfare.
Secondly, in twenty years China will also be a leading political power. Many of today’s problems are international in nature. Health, energy shortages, the environment, terrorism, drugs, nuclear proliferation and trans-national crime. These matters can only be addressed through strengthened international cooperation. It is vital that we reinforce the Global outlook.
Thirdly, international politics, trade and culture are now interwoven in ways that nobody could envisage just a few decades ago. In another twenty years this will be even more significant. Given these circumstances we must continue to respect diversity while ensuring the free flow of information, news, and ideas. We can no longer cling to nationalism. Instead, we need freedom, democracy and basic human rights for all. The people and leaders of tomorrow should aim at a better global intercultural understanding .
And finally, in twenty years I believe that China and Europe will both be leading players in international affairs. We will be competitors, yes. But, as I said earlier, free competition leads to greater distribution of labour and supply. China and Europe should, first and foremost, be global partners – global partners in promoting peace and stability both in our regions and throughout the world.
Thank you very much for your attention and for allowing me to share my thoughts with you, and I will be happy to hear your comments and questions.