FOREIGN RELATIONS
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Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping's dairy deal helps milk Netherlands visit for all it's worth

Xi Jinping secures increased imports of Dutch milk products as he kicks off European tour

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 5:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 3:43pm

China and the Netherlands agreed yesterday to enhance economic co-operation in a wide-ranging deal that includes more exports of Dutch dairy products to the mainland.

President Xi Jinping met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the second day of his trip to the Netherlands, and the two sides issued a joint statement on building a comprehensive partnership.

They agreed to boost co-operation over agricultural products such as dairy, seeds and food safety.

The deal is another step by China towards restoring public confidence in the reputation of its dairy industry following a scare over tainted milk products.

The Dutch government says experts will help the mainland increase its annual milk production to 40 billion kilograms in the coming years.

Xi also called for mutual respect of core interests. One of Xi's goals is to strengthen ties with European countries, with Beijing hoping additional goodwill can help offset trade frictions.

Xi said the Netherlands could have a positive influence in the European Union to promote early completion of negotiations of Sino-European investment agreements, China News Service reported.

The Netherlands could also help to promote work towards a free-trade zone between China and Europe and ease trade frictions arising from wireless telecommunications products.

Addressing a trade forum, Xi relayed the same message that China hoped to join hands with the Netherlands to resolve trade disputes between China and the EU.

Both sides agreed to enhance co-operation in new energy, finance, and research and development.

On Saturday, Xi met Dutch King Willem-Alexander.

In 2008, some mainland milk brands were found to be tainted with the chemical melamine, which can damage the kidneys. Some suppliers added it to fool protein tests on watered-down supplies. Six infants died and thousands fell ill.

Imported milk products enjoy a reputation for safety on the mainland and command prices far higher than local brands.

Xi arrived in The Hague ahead of a G7 meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, where US President Barack Obama is expected to address the escalating showdown with Russia over Crimea.

Xi is also expected to meet with Obama at the sidelines.

Cui Hongjian, director of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, under the China's foreign ministry, said Beijing was now seeking to widen its political and economic influence beyond Asia.

"The suspicions between China and Europe are not as serious as those between China and the US. China and Europe can put more stress on co-operation."

Xi is also due to visit France and Germany.