Belgian PM 'confident' in China's economy

Updated: 2013-09-09 02:23

By Tuo Yannan in Brussels (China Daily)

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Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo has said that China's fast-growing economy can handle any economic difficulties and the country's leaders "know well what is necessary" to surmount them.

"I am confident that China has the ability to deal with any potential economic challenges, based on its experience gathered during previous decades," Di Rupo said in Brussels.

The prime minister leaves Belgium on Monday to attend the summer Davos Forum in Dalian, Liaoning province, from Wednesday to Friday.

He is expected to meet Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the forum to discuss methods to deepen bilateral economic, trade and people-to-people ties.

It will be Di Rupo's first trip to Asia since becoming prime minister in December 2011.

He expressed his confidence in China as it is undergoing structural economic reforms in the face of growing external uncertainties.

China's economy has been confronting a downturn for 13 consecutive quarters since the beginning of 2010.

Di Rupo said he has paid a great deal of attention to the trend and discussed it with Chinese officials. "But it is clear that China is trying to manage its economic growth," he said.

Di Rupo said China is still the engine of global economic growth.

"With China as the leading driver, Asia, in general, will become the first global economy to surpass Europe and the United States, though Europe and the US are still very strong," he said.

Di Rupo also said he was impressed by the new Chinese leadership's savvy handling of and strategy to manage such a populous country. Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty and the quality of life for ordinary citizens has improved greatly, he said.

Di Rupo has previously visited China twice. He met Li in Brussels in May 2012 when the premier was on a trip to the EU headquarters and Belgium.

Di Rupo said of the encounter, "We were impressed by his knowledge and his view for the future of China, and we were impressed to see how he knows perfectly what is necessary for China and what kind of cooperation is possible with other countries."

Di Rupo said he is trying to deepen bilateral relations and expand cooperation in high-tech and sustainable development. "I hope the exchange between the two countries' technology industries can be improved, and my expectation is to see more and more cooperation between the two countries."

He said investment from China is welcome. Belgium is one of the countries with advantages in innovation in many sectors such as health, pharmaceuticals and sustainable industries, and Belgium can offer good opportunities for investment from Chinese enterprises.

He also said it is exciting to see China growing into a leader in technology, especially green energy technology, in such as short time.

"So there are lots of opportunities that Belgium can offer to China. We have cooperation in technologies for many years and the two countries can work better," he said.

Belgium was one of the first Western European countries to establish diplomatic relations with China, in the 1970s, and the two have enjoyed a sound relationship for 42 years.

Trade volume between Belgium and China has grown a thousand fold since 1971, to $26.3 billion in 2012. Belgium is China's sixth-largest trading partner among all the 28 EU member countries.

China, as the second-largest trading partner of Belgium outside the EU, has rapidly increased its investment into the country. The cumulative nonfinancial direct investment from China was $140 million at the end of 2012, while more than 300 Belgian companies have invested in the Chinese market.

"Fast development for decades in China is something unbelievable and so there are lots of opportunities," said Di Rupo. "I will be there to show our interests in China and improve our understanding of this country."