King heads large Belgian delegation to China

King Filip and Queen Mathilde have left for a state visit to China. They are heading a large Belgian delegation of politicians, CEO's and academics, that also includes the premiers of the 3 regions. The agenda will be busy, with stops in 5 cities: Wuhan, Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Shenzhen. The Belgian mission comes one year after the Chinese president Xi Jinping and his wife visited Belgium.

King Filip had promised that he would respect the bigger role that the Belgian regions (Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia) are playing when he succeeded his father King Albert to the throne 2 years ago. So it's no coincidence that the 3 PM's of the regions (Geert Bourgeois, Rudi Vervoort and Paul Magnette respectively) are coming along. Foreign Minister Didier Reynders and the federal State Secretary for Foreign Trade Pieter De Crem are also coming.

The Belgian mission comes one year after the Chinese president Xi Jinping and his wife visited Belgium. They were welcomed by Filip and Mathilde (photo) on that occasion, inaugurated the new pavilion for the Chinese panda bears in Pairi Daiza and visited the car plant of Volvo Gent, which is in Chinese hands via the Geely concern.

Now it's China's turn to welcome the Belgians. This mission is mostly diplomatic, but also involves an economic and academic part. China is the world's number 9 on a list of countries importing Belgian goods. The imports were worth 7.4 billion euros last year. A number of companies have joined the trip, including Amos, Barco, Besix, Bekaert, CMI, IBA, Katoen Natie, Umicore, Solvay, UCB, Jan De Nul, Proximus, Volvo Gent, Marcoline and Pairi Daiza.

Wuhan as the first stop

Seminars will be held and there will be opportunities for contacts with potential investors. King Filip will visit Beijing University and the headquarters of telecom giants Huawei.

The heads of the Belgian universities have also come along. The Belgians first go to Wuhan, where the king and queen will attend a show by the Belgo-Italian director Franco Dragone. Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Shenzhen are to follow.