AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Dutch entrepreneurs were exploring the economic and trade opportunities in southwest China's Sichuan Province at a seminar sponsored by the Chinese province and the Dutch Foreign Ministry here on Monday.
Peng Qinghua, secretary of the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, presented the charm, potential, openness and vitality of his province and invited entrepreneurs to boost cooperation, particularly in agriculture, innovative industry, services, economic and trade, science and eduction.
"With a size 10 times that of yours, a population five times that of yours, Sichuan only has a GDP two-thirds of that of the Netherlands. But our economy has been growing at a pace of around 8 percent for years and we are the gateway to a market of 400 million people in Western China," Peng told the audience.
"The developing Sichuan has a huge potential. For the developed Netherlands, it represents a huge potential for cooperation," he said.
The presence of a large number of entrepreneurs at the seminar reflects the fantastic relationship between China and the Netherlands which has seen many highlights over the past years, said Andre Driessen, Director for International Enterprise from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"What is true for the bilateral in general, also holds for the ties between the Netherlands and Sichuan Province. The links are strong, diverse and growing," he said.
"Last week the government of the Netherlands presented a document outlining our view on the relationship with China ... This document states that the Netherlands is fully committed to working together with China on trade and investment, and seeking opportunities wherever these are available," he added.
Sixty-nine Dutch companies are present in Sichuan province. Major Dutch companies like Shell, Unilever, Signify/Philips Lighting, DSM, Azko-Nobel and KLM, have all chosen Sichuan as a home for their activities in Western China.
In transportation and logistics, a direct flight connecting Amsterdam and Chengdu, capital of the Sichuan province, has been in service for over 10 years. A railway connection between Tilburg and Chengdu was also launched in 2016.
The Dutch Province of Limburg and Sichuan celebrate the 5-year anniversary of their official friendship relationship this summer. Limburg's capital city Maastricht and Chengdu have been sister cities since 2012.
"Even by Chinese standards, Western China has developed very rapidly in the last decade," said Theo Bovens, Governor of Limburg. "Sichuan is also strategically located and vitally important in the Belt and Road Initiative, and only last month Sichuan received a delegation from our Ministry of Infrastructure, in which we also participated, to discuss and develop further business cooperation."
"We have a network of strong government ties on both provincial and municipal level that we can use to support partners in developing cooperation projects," he added. "We will continue to do so. We are constantly exploring new areas of cooperation."
For Zhang Guosheng, economic counselor of the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands, the China-Netherlands relations enjoy a sound momentum of growth as evidenced by close high-level interactions and deepening practical cooperation in all fields.
"I hope that Dutch companies will seize the opportunities provided by the new reform and opening-up and industrial transformation and upgrading in China, further promoting the fruitful economic and trade cooperation between our two countries," he said.
At the seminar, representatives of Sichuan and Dutch companies signed 15 agreements covering cultural and educational cooperation, training, logistics, smart sports, horticultural trade, etc.