From February 7 to 8, Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will pay a working visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. It will be the royal couple’s second visit to China since King Willem-Alexander ascended the throne in April 2013.
According to the royal house of the Netherlands, In the afternoon of February 7, the royal couple will first be received by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, then meet President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, and take part in a meeting between the two countries’ delegations. The working visit will conclude with a dinner with Xi and Peng.
On February 8, King Willem-Alexander will leave Beijing for South Korea to attend the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, while Queen Máxima will stay and attend a series of events to promote green finance as well as bilateral business.
Noting that “China is an important ‘new’ player on the global stage on issues such as climate change” as well as “the world’s second-biggest economy,” the royal house said that both China and the the Netherlands “depend on the smooth functioning of global trade, which requires frequent contacts and ongoing cooperation.”
Xi and the royal couple are no strangers. During his Europe tour in 2014, Xi paid a state visit to the Netherlands and met King Willem-Alexander.
Then in October 2015, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima made their first official trip to China.
During this trip, both countries agreed to enhance ties and boost cooperation, particularly on the Belt and Road Initiative — Xi’s signature diplomatic project — and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). By deciding to join the AIIB as a founding state in 2015, together with several other European states, the Netherlands helped provide credibility to the bank, against the backdrop of the United States’ strong objections during that time.
Meanwhile, the royal couple also won some popularity among the Chinese people because of their approachable manner.
For example, they visited not only China’s more developed cities — Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou — but also less developed Yan’an in Shaanxi province. The King and Queen toured the Loess Plateau and visited apple farms in a local village.
As Manya Koetse reported in 2015, the royal couple’s photos were widely spread by Chinese netizens on the social media. One photo, which caught the King biting an apple in the village of Yan’an, was particularly favored by Chinese netizens, since the King looked “so cute.”
Noting that “King Willem-Alexander is friendly to China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at the regular press briefing on January 30, “We believe that this visit will further enhance political mutual trust, elevate bilateral cooperation in various fields and inject new impetus into the growth of China-Netherlands relations in the new era.”