70 years of diplomatic relations between Sweden and China

18 May 2020

Please find the Ambassador’s commemoration speech to acknowledge 70 years of diplomatic relations between Sweden and China below.

“[…] The Government of Sweden are prepared to establish diplomatic relations on the basis of equality and mutual respect of sovereignty territorial integrity and establish practices of international law and order.” 

These are the words from a telegram sent in January 1950 from the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Östen Undén to his counterpart Zhou Enlai. This was the first official step towards the establishment of our two countries’ diplomatic relations.  

The 9th of May, marks 70 years of diplomatic relations between Sweden and China.

Sweden was the first Western country to establish diplomatic relations with China. Our first ambassador to China was Torsten Hammarström. On the 12th of June 1950 he handed over his letter of credence to Chairman Mao. The Chinese government welcomed him and at the same time the Chinese Ambassador Geng Biao went to Stockholm to take up his position. We can proudly say that since 1950 we have built and developed a solid bilateral relationship.  

But our connections have deeper roots. Sweden and China’s trade connections started already in the 18th century. Our trade has throughout centuries benefited from an array of Swedish companies which are well established and successful in China.

The many high-level visits, meetings and exchanges have provided, and continue to provide, ample opportunities to discuss important matters such as human rights, gender equality, international law, disarmament and non-proliferation, environment and climate. Cooperation has flourished in the fields of education, research and innovation, health, tourism, culture, corporate social responsibility and on how to build sustainable societies.

This spring has been particularly challenging, for China, for Sweden and for the whole world. We have faced and are still facing a pandemic that affects everyone, everywhere.

When the news of the outbreak in Wuhan earlier this year reached us, Swedish companies took immediate action to support the affected. Medical equipment and other essentials were sent to Hubei and the Swedish Government increased its funding to WHO.

When the epidemic later spread outside of Chinese boarders China reached out their hand to us. What we have learnt is that the most effective way to fight a pandemic and to overcome a tough situation like this, is to work together.  

We must still exercise caution and steel ourselves for a drawn-out pandemic, but we are relieved that China and the Chinese people are slowly regaining strength and are able to resume their activities. We hope that the situation continues to develop in this positive way for Europe and the rest of the world as well.

This commemoration marks 70 years of diplomatic relations. Looking to the future, I am convinced that there is further scope for deepening and expanding our ties.

Please find the full speech here. 

Last updated 18 May 2020, 9.51 AM