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Belgium, China 'really good match': Belgian ambassador

2014-03-30 09:18 Xinhua Web Editor: Wang YuXia

Belgium is looking forward to further cooperation with China as the two countries are "really good match," Belgian Ambassador to China Michel Malherbe said in an exclusive interview with Xinhuanet ahead of the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. [Special coverage]

Belgium welcomes Xi's visit as a "crown" since the two countries established diplomatic relationship in 1971, said Michel Malherbe.

The visit is Xi's first to Belgium as Chinese president and also the first to the EU headquarters by a Chinese president.

Sino-Belgian relations have been developing comprehensively over the years, Malherbe noted, adding that Belgium's edge in areas such as green technologies, medical technologies, environmental protection and high-tech agriculture would fulfill China's needs.

"When you look at the Five-Year Plan of China, it really resembles what we do best in Belgium. We are really good match on the trade side," said the ambassador.

First posted in Beijing in 1994, Malherbe was later assigned in Singapore and Hong Kong. The decade-long experience in a broadly Chinese environment gave him an opportunity to witness China's rapid development and the changes of bilateral relations.

"Back then, we Europeans were selling goods and technology to China, and now we Europeans are trying to attract Chinese investments to Europe."

While "virtually every institution, every company, every university wants to establish cooperation with China," Malherbe stressed, "everything starts with people-to-people contacts."

Despite all the achievements, he admitted that there is still a lack of people who could understand each other's language, mentality, and culture. Malherbe said his Belgian team, as well as the one led by his counterpart, Chinese ambassador to Belgium Liao Liqiang, are working on daily basis to enhance the quality and the quantity of the contacts between the population, especially between the young people.

Talking about the pair of Chinese pandas arriving in Belgium last month, Xinghui and Haohao, Malherbe said, they are the "symbol of China's soft power," giving "an appropriate positive image."

In an earlier interview, Malherbe said the pair of pandas could symbolize "deeper understanding and friendship between the younger generations of both countries."

For those who want to study or tour in Belgium, Malherbe suggested that his country is a good starting point to visit Europe.

Though small both in terms of size and population, Belgium lies in the central area of western Europe.

Moreover, with people from different backgrounds and the headquarters of international organizations like EU and NATO, Belgium regards itself as the heart of the continent, not only geographically but also politically, he added.

"Belgium is the heart of Europe, the gate to the European continent. That is the way we look at it ourselves and the way we look forward in Belgian-Chinese relationship," the ambassador concluded.

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