After meeting King Willem-Alexander, the Chinese Vice-President Han Zheng met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague on Thursday to discuss cooperation on trade and climate change, though onlookers criticised the warm reception after tensions have risen in recent months.
Earlier that day, Zheng met King Willem-Alexander in the royal palace Huis ten Bosch. The Chinese vice-president, who is set to visit Portugal following his meeting with Rutte, attended the coronation of King Charles III in London on Saturday.
“Good to welcome Chinese Vice-President Han Zheng to The Hague today during his visit this week to Europe. The Netherlands attaches importance to a good relationship with China in which we speak openly with each other,” Rutte tweeted.
With Foreign Trade and Development Minister Liesje Schreinemacher (VVD/Renew), Rutte and Zheng discussed cooperation possibilities regarding trade and sustainable development, including the fight against climate change and water management.
But the visit drew criticism from lawmakers.
“Incomprehensible that our king is receiving Chinese Vice-President Zheng at [the] palace. Yes, the Netherlands needs to talk to China. But receiving a human rights violator grandly from a country that intimidates and oppresses in the Netherlands & China sends [the] wrong signal,” Alexander Hammelburg, MP for D66 (Renew), tweeted.
Green party MP Tom van der Lee stated it would be “bizarre and unacceptable” if the topics of Taiwan and the “large-scale human rights violations of China” were not discussed during the meeting.
Dutch-Sino relations have recently deteriorated due to China being designated as the Netherlands’ “biggest security threat” in a recent report by the Dutch secret service, AIVD.
This led to the Dutch being accused of having a “cold war mentality” by the PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson.
Following a deal with Japan and the US, the Netherlands also introduced export controls on vital chip-making technology towards China.
The country further took exception to the presence of Chinese police stations within its territory.
(Benedikt Stöckl | EURACTIV.com)
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