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China and Sweden Celebrate Relations

Like France who launched several high-profile cultural exchanges with China last year, Sweden has decided to open a new channel to upgrade its friendship with China. 

Last month, a newly built replica of the classic ship Gothenburg made a successful maiden voyage in Sweden. Once testing is fully complete the ship is to sail along the ancient "Silk Road of the Sea" from its Scandinavian base to China.


The wooden ship's journey is expected start from Gothenburg in Sweden in October, with the aim of making it all the way to Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Exact stops along the way have not yet been confirmed, but the plan is for The Gothenburg to follow the same route that ships of the East India Company took during the 18th century, said Borje Ljunggren, Sweden's ambassador to China.


On September 12, 1745, the East India ship Gothenburg headed for her home port after almost two years sailing the world's oceans, during which she purchased goods, including tea, silk and porcelain, from Wampoa in Guangdong Province. The ship suffered from storms on the journey home but a triumphant homecoming ended in embarrassment when the vessel ran around in the middle of the entrance to Gothenburg harbor and sank.


Thanks to nearby boats that had turned out to welcome the ship home, the entire crew was rescued and no lives were lost, but the ship had taken cargo equivalent in value to Sweden's entire national budget to the bottom of the sea.


55th anniversary celebration


In an interview with China Daily, Ambassador Ljunggren said the new Gothenburg's latest voyage would be a journey to celebrate 55 years of diplomatic relations between Sweden and China.


"It is a noteworthy anniversary, not least since Sweden was the first western country to establish relations with the People's Republic of China," said Ljunggren.


The year 2005 is not only an anniversary year for Sweden and China. This month also sees the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the EU. That anniversary will be celebrated with a formal reception for leaders from both sides at an official reception in the Great Hall of the People on May 12, Ljunggren added.


In September, a large Sino-Swedish exhibition will open at the Wumen Gate at the heart of the Forbidden City, sponsored by Volvo, SAS, and Radisson SAS. Chinese porcelain exported to Sweden in the 18th century are among the items that will be exhibited.


"Since May 9, 1950, when Sweden and China formally established diplomatic ties, we have had good relations for a long time," Ljunggren added.


Trade between Sweden and China is continually expanding and China is now Sweden's most important trading partner in Asia, with a total trade of 40 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion). More than 250 Swedish companies are represented in China.


China's firms have also expanded their business in Sweden, such as China's Huawei Company.


"Since China opened up to the outside world in the 1970s, we have continued political exchanges. Now political exchanges are frequent, just like research contacts and cultural exchanges," he said. "Dialogue on human rights and legal development continues to be an important focus of our relations. As China is opening up, we also see great potential for cooperation in a number of new areas such as education, research and tourism.


"However, trade and the economy remain the basis for our relations." A number of Sino-Swedish cultural events will be organized throughout the year to mark the anniversary and increase awareness of Sweden in China.


"Strindberg in China 2005" is the name of a Beijing and Shanghai based festival being launched this month to celebrate the major works of Swedish playwright and novelist Strindberg, This year, works by Strindberg, for the first time ever, are available in Chinese translation.


In August, to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN conference on women, held in Beijing in 1995, a Sino-Swedish project on gender equality will be launched.


(China Daily May 7, 2005)

China, EU Exchange Greetings on 30th Anniversary of Establishing Ties
China, Sweden to Expand Cooperation
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