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Speech at the 10th Anniversary of Beijing-Amsterdam Flight Routing Operation of China Southern Airlines (2006-12-01)
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(By Chinese Embassy in Netherlands)



Ambassador Xue Hanqin


November 28, 2006


Mr. Director Chen Gang


Mr. Ren


Distinguished guests


Ladies and gentlemen:


On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Beijing-Amsterdam flight routing operation of China Southern Airlines, I wish to extend my warmest congratulations to the company. Three years ago when I just arrived at my post as the Chinese Ambassador, I also attended the ceremony of receiving the first cargo flight of China Southern to Amsterdam. Being one of the three major international airlines in China, China Southern, although the youngest, has made remarkable achievements in the past ten years and has successfully taken the number-one position in China in 2005 in terms of passengers, flights, and flight routings.


As a civil aviation company, China Southern, among others, has witnessed and contributed to three major developments. First, it has witnessed the fast growing economic development of China that is more and more integrated with the world economy and a dynamic and open Chinese society that is more and more linked with the rest of the world. Today not only the top 500 transnational corporations have established their business in China, small and medium-sized companies are also entering China to tap its huge potential market. With the implementation of our "going global" strategy, an increasing number of Chinese enterprises are coming out to look for business opportunities and international cooperation abroad. Last year, Europe became the Chinese tourist destination and about one million Chinese tourists came to the continent. As such an increasing volume of business contacts and people's exchanges was directly felt by our consular office as visa applications has increased sharply in recent years, it is no surprise that flights between China and Europe enjoy a business boom as well. As far as China Southern is concerned, I am glad to learn that its passenger's occupancy rate has grown from its early stage of 40.5% to currently 75.4%.


Secondly, China Southern has witnessed the fast growing relations between China and the Netherlands. This year the Netherlands will continue to be our second largest trader partner among EU countries. Whenever people ask me to explain how come this small country could do far better than its big neighbors, I would always point out the airport of Amsterdam and the seaport of Rotterdam. We are in a country of traders and are learning from their entrepreneurial spirit. I am happy to read in the local newspapers that because of trade with China, each Dutch household saved 300 euro annually, benefiting from the low prices of the imported Chinese products. Of course, our bilateral relations are not only about the business and trade. Now we see more delegations, students, cultural troupes, scholars, and tourists to the Netherlands. Likewise more Dutch people from various sectors go to China. As a bridge between our two countries, airline serve deserves our sincere compliments.


Lastly, the company has witnessed the fast growing development of Chinese civil aviation. I have been informed recently that the Chinese civil aviation has become the second largest aviation transport system in the world, only next to the United States. In terms of overall turnover of aviation transport, it ranks the second largest among the states parties of the International Civil Aviation Organization in 2006; in 2000, it only ranked the 9th. The whole sector by now has nearly 1000 aircrafts, and 142 airports for aviation transport. China Southern has made its own contributions to this commendable achievement.


We all know that international civil aviation nowadays is a very tough business. Apart from fierce competition, it has to cope with unstable oil prices, security measures as well as environmental concerns. Against all odds, China Southern has managed to make steady progress in the European market. As part of its business strategy, it has learned from its partners to set up code-sharing arrangements with other airlines, among which is KLM and ready to join the sky team for more cooperations. As introduced by Mr. Ren, there is still large room for further cooperation between the two airlines. With long established business successes, KLM is both a strong competitor as well as a desirable partner for China Southern. To my knowledge, the Schiphol airport is also trying to enter China's market. I think that China Southern can in a way play a role to promote the cooperation. Here I am not of course advocating business match-making, what I want to emphasize is that our bilateral business relations can be very complimentary and mutually beneficial.


This year China's economic situation continues to be very positive. With deepening economic and social reforms under the new national development plan, I am quite confident that Chinese civil aviation will achieve even greater successes. Against this background, I wish China Southern much more good returns in the next decade.


Thank you again for the kind invitation extended to me and my staff in the Embassy to this wonderful occasion.


Thank you for your attention.



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