Why China Loves Denmark

chinese and asian business

writer icon Paige Whitehead     ISB   |   Culture     🕐 04. Jul. 2018

Denmark boasts having the longest unbroken chain of diplomacy with China, since 1908. With China’s lengthy history of human rights issues, changing governments, and becoming an economic powerhouse, how has China's relationship with Denmark withstood the test of time?

An Overseas Friendship
Recently, Denmark was invaded. Non-native oysters overtook Danish shores, threatening native species and clogging waterways. In this time of crisis, an unlikely hero stepped forward. It started with a plea, in jest, from Denmark’s embassy in China. China took it seriously and are in talks with Denmark regarding the exporting of these oysters in hopes of helping Denmark rid themselves of the molluscs.

Copenhagen Zoo was also gifted with two pandas from China. This gift, of one of the most beloved and endangered species in the world, is China’s universal sign of goodwill. It is obvious that China and Denmark have a special, if unlikely, relationship. How did this relationship begin, and how is it staying so strong?

Denmark has China’s Back
It all began in the 1600s when a Danish trading ship landed on Chinese shores. On the ship was a personal letter from Denmark’s king to China’s emperor. This sparked the beginning of good relations between China and Denmark, as well as prominent trade. In 1908, Denmark established their first embassy in China.

Denmark was one of the first nations to establish diplomatic relations with the newly formed People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the 1950s. Denmark continued its support by advocating for the PRC’s right to a seat on the United Nations, which was granted in 1971. When the Cold War left China relatively isolated from the rest of the world, Denmark’s diplomatic support was unwavering.

Though a small country, Denmark appears to be one that China can lean on in times of crisis or uncertainty. Now that China is stable, and their economy is booming, they are returning the favour.

Partners Beyond Borders
Today, China is Denmark’s largest non-European trading partner. Both countries support multilateralism and free trade, which makes for a relatively easy trading partnership. This partnership with an economic giant has resulted in an explosion of Denmark’s economy. 

Chinese tourism has also flourished in Denmark, due to Denmark’s efforts in making themselves accessible. Denmark was one of the first Schengen countries to open visa centres in China with speedy application processes. They also have an established Chinese cultural centre in Copenhagen to help strengthen ties and better understand their diplomatic partner.

Recently, Denmark and China have entered into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The partnership lays out the two countries’ plans and common goals such as condemning terrorism, the continuing development of Africa, and lifting the EU’s arms embargo against China. They also agree to collaborate on environmental and societal concerns such as global warming, energy, and education.

Denmark showed loyalty to China when it needed it the most. In return, China has made Denmark not only a business partner, but an ally in its future endeavours.

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