Sweden honors 65 years of diplomatic relations with China

By Lars Peter Fredén Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-17 19:13:01

The Swedish Ambassador to China Lars Peter Fredén at the Swedish Ambassador's Residence in Beijing Photo: Courtesy of Feng Yu

Sixty-five years ago, on May 9, 1950, Sweden became the first Western country to establish diplomatic relations with China. Later on, in the 1970s, Sweden was among the first countries to sign a bilateral agreement with China on industrial, scientific and technological cooperation. And in the 1980s, Sweden became the first country in the world to sign a mutual protection of investments agreement with China.

More than 550 Sweden-affiliated companies are present in China. More than 10,000 Swedish companies are doing business with China. Some are big and some are small. Some were pioneers and have been in China for decades. Others are newcomers. Many of them are leaders in their field and have a lot to offer to China's development.

The bilateral contacts between Sweden and China cover trade and investment issues, but also many other areas. We cooperate on environmental technology, sustainable urban development, research, corporate social responsibility and human rights.

The 65th anniversary of relations between Sweden and China was celebrated when Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven visited China in March this year and held talks with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. It was pointed out during the talks that relations can be even further broadened and deepened in the coming years. Some areas of mutual interest and with great potential for closer cooperation are innovation, environmental technology, transportation, health care and climate change.

Sweden is a leading country in several of these areas. We have developed world-class ideas and world-class companies. Our success is a result of a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship among companies and individuals, but it is also due to good governance, social security, freedom and rule of law.

China has experienced a phenomenal economic development over the last decades. Development has come at a price, at least in regards to environmental pollution. Now there is an increased focus on sustainable growth. The transformation of the Chinese economy brings new challenges. Sweden will have a lot to offer in this process.

Many actors are involved in the contacts between our countries. They include political leaders, government agencies, universities, institutions, businesses, students and tourists. My own involvement with China goes back to the 1970s. Compared to that time, more and more of our relationship is driven by people, not institutions. That is how it should be.

The author is the Ambassador of Sweden to China.

Posted in: Metro Beijing

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