Short speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a lunch on the occasion of the visit by Premier Li Keqiang of China to the Netherlands, The Hague

Premier Li, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Netherlands, and welcome to the Binnenhof, which for almost nine hundred years has been the beating heart of government and politics in the Netherlands.
To put that into perspective, this complex predates the Forbidden City by over a hundred years.
It was built in the second half of the 13th century - around the same time that Marco Polo set out for China, and Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty.

Just across from here is the Hall of Knights.
Every year, on the third Tuesday in September, our King opens the parliamentary year with the Speech from the Throne in this hall.
During this address, he announces the plans of the government for the year ahead.
It is one of our country's finest traditions.
The King and Queen tour the streets of The Hague in a historic coach.
The day is full of uniforms and pageantry.
And the ladies all wear hats.
It's a marvellous annual celebration.

In this year's Speech from the Throne, the King underscored  the importance of a rules-based international order and of global free trade.
And these will also be important topics of discussion during your visit to our country.
Because both our countries stand to benefit from a free and fair multilateral trade system.
We talked about this at the Boao Forum earlier this year, and today I'd like to repeat what I said there: protectionism stands in the way of progress.

The growing number of people-to-people contacts between China and the Netherlands provides a firm basis for such progress.
Researchers, business people, government officials, athletes, artists and yes, tourists too, from both China and the Netherlands, are interacting more and more.
And you are all living proof of that. Because in your own way you are helping Sino-Dutch relations to blossom and grow.

In the Netherlands, the mounting interest in China has been highlighted again by the popularity of documentary filmmaker Ruben Terlou, who's produced two highly successful TV series about his travels in your country.
Mr Terlou brings modern-day China into our living rooms in a really fascinating way. Not with the usual images and clichés, but with stories that reflect every aspect of life, right across the country.
The popularity of his work shows that the Dutch people are eager to understand China in its full complexity.
It's a pleasure to have you here with us today, Mr Terlou.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You sometimes hear critics say that international work is all talk and paperwork.
But you only need to look at our lunch today to see they are wrong.
In July, our agriculture ministers reached agreement on the conditions for the export of Dutch veal to China.
Today we have 'veal three ways' on the menu.
And very soon, this delicious Dutch export product will also be available in China.

Premier Li, I'd like to propose a toast to your visit to the Netherlands.
To the strength and success of our bilateral relations.
And to the friendship and partnership between our countries.