STOCKHOLM -- The relations between China and Sweden have been undergoing smooth development since their diplomatic ties were forged 57 years ago, and Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit will further boost the Sino-Swedish friendship, Chinese Ambassador Lu Fengding said.
The ambassador made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua ahead of President Hu's state visit to the Scandinavian country on June 8-10.
As the first Western nation to forge diplomatic ties with China, Sweden has shared much in common with China on many international affairs and enjoy the same interests on many issues, Lu said.
In 2006 the relationship between the two countries gained momentum, demonstrated prominently in the fields of politics, trade and economy, culture, education and tourism, he said.
China and Sweden conducted frequent high-level exchanges in the past year, enhancing their mutual trust in politics. For example, Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf visited China in 2006 after a 27-year hiatus, marking the highest-level political exchange between the two countries in the past decade, Lu said.
The frequent exchanges have offered an opportunity for the two countries to strengthen understanding and friendship, the ambassador added.
Cooperation in trade and economy expanded rapidly and showed great room for further growth in 2006. China maintained its status as Sweden's top trading partner, and bilateral trade volume reached US$6.7 billion in 2006, up 16 percent on the previous year, according to the ambassador.
Investment also showed a growing momentum in 2006, reaching US$2.1 billion, he added.
Exchange and cooperation in culture, education and tourism also witnessed comprehensive development, Lu said.
Taking the legendary ship of Gotheborg as an example, the ambassador said under the auspices of the Swedish government and the industrial and commercial sectors, the replica of the 18th-century Swedish merchant ship revisited China in 2006, more than 260 years after the ship made three historic voyages from Gothenburg to Guangzhou between 1743 and 1745, pioneering trade between Sweden and China.
The event was welcomed by the peoples of the two countries and helped promote the friendship between them, Lu said.
Lu said as Sweden is a member of the European Union (EU), to strengthen the all-round relations between China and Sweden is not only necessary for the development of Sino-Swedish ties, but also for Sino-European relations against the backdrop of the all-round strategic partnership between China and Europe. The development of China-Sweden ties has a solid basis, great potential and broad prospects for development, and more importantly, it is facing a historic opportunity that the two sides need to seize and make use of.
Lu said China and Sweden have established good cooperative relations in many aspects. In the political field, the two countries should keep the momentum of mutually high-level visits, enhance exchanges and mutual trust and improve the political atmosphere for their relations.
The two countries should also enhance consultations and exchanges of views, push for coordination and cooperation on international issues and make efforts to realize world peace, cooperation and development, he said.
In the economic sphere, the Chinese ambassador said the two countries should further expand mutually-beneficial cooperation and explore new types of cooperation. Under the principle of mutual-benefit and mutual-complementarity, the two sides have a great deal of opportunities and great potential for cooperation.
In education and culture, Lu said there are also broad prospects for reinforcing cooperation. Sweden's higher education institutions have built very good relations with those in China, and their cooperation has yielded positive results.
Lu said although China and Sweden have different political mechanisms, modes of development and even different views on certain issues, this should be considered as reasons for them to enhance exchanges and cooperation and not as obstacles hindering the development of their ties.
The two countries can only adopt an attitude of mutual-respect, mutual-tolerance and learn from each other in efforts to enhance mutual understanding and to achieve joint development in the process of seeking the common ground while reserving their differences.