Dutch king, queen pop in for tea with Chinese leader ahead of official visit

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. (Photo: RVD / Patrick van Katwijk)

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima are dropping in for tea with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing on Wednesday on their way to the opening of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will lead an official visit to China in April, sources told the Telegraaf on Wednesday.

The Dutch King will spend only one day in China before traveling to South Korea for the Olympic Winter Games, NOS reports. Queen Maxima still has some appointments in China on Thursday. 

This is the third time King Willem-Alexander and President Xi are meeting in a relatively short time. - the first ever Chinese head of state to do so, and the Dutch royals paid a state visit to China in October 2015. Xi invited the King and Queen to pop in on their way to the Olympics in October last year. 

So many visits in such a relatively short time don't only show the good relationship between the Netherlands and China, but also the "excellent personal relationship" between Willem-Alexander, Xi and their spouses, people around the King told NOS. According to them, this relationship developed during Xi's visit to the Netherlands. The Chinese greatly appreciated the way the Netherlands received Xi and his wife. 

The Dutch Royal couple has a short program in China on their schedule for Wednesday. After arriving at the airport, they visited the Dutch ambassador in Beijing to be informed about the political and economic situation in the country. At the end of the morning they have meetings with Prime Minister Li Keqiang in the Grand People's Hall and with President Xi Jinping and his wife in the Zhongnanhai complex. There is also a private dinner on their schedule. 

On Thursday Queen Maxima will have several meetings on Dutch-Chinese trade, before she too travels to South Korea on Friday morning to attend the opening of the Olympic Winter Games in the evening.

Minister Halbe Zijlstra of Foreign Affairs is also in China. On Thursday he is meeting with "four or five" civil society representatives to discuss the human rights situation in the country, according to NOS. Exactly who he will be meeting was not announced because it could be dangerous for the people meeting with the minister, the organizers of the meeting said.