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Sino-Danish relations

You can read more about the Sino-Danish bilateral relationship on this page.

The Kingdom of Denmark is the only country to have unbroken diplomatic presence in China since 1908.

Denmark recognized the People's Republic of China in 9th of January 1950.

Denmark and China exchanged notes of the establishment of diplomatic relations the 11th of May 1950.

The Danish recognition of the Peoples Republic of China and its national territory (the one-China policy) has remained unchanged since 1950. Thus, throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s Denmark supported that the Peoples Republic of China assumed the Chinese seat in the United Nations. This took place in 1971 and at the same time the Republic of China's membership of the UN ended.

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Denmark's China policy

Denmark and China has signed a "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership" that points out several areas where the two countries have agreed to intensify the cooperation.

These areas encompasses among other things:

• Strengthening of the political dialogue between Denmark and China as well as frequent exchanges of high level visits
• Climate, energy and environment
• Research and innovation
• Education

To read the joint statement on the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership between Denmark and China, please click here.

Denmark – China: A mutually beneficial partnership
Former Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen launched the Danish government action plan on cooperation with China on 20 October 2008. The action plan establishes priorities and outlines ways of promoting Sino-Danish cooperation. Priority areas are political dialogue, research, innovation and education.

To download the action plan in English, click here.

To download the action plan in Chinese, click here.

To download the action plan in Danish, click here.


In May 2012, the Danish government launched a strategy for emerging markets and a specific strategy for China.

The strategy for China gives priority to areas of business, where Denmark have specialized competences or a competitive advantage in dealing with issues such as: urbanization, water- and environment solutions, energy and climate, agriculture and sustainable food, pharmaceutics, health and welfare technology, research, innovation and education, and  shipping.

History of Sino-Danish relations

In July 1908, the first Danish diplomat to take up residence in China, Count Preben Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, arrived with his family in Beijing.

Trading ships from Denmark came to China already in the 17th and 18th century and Danish honorary consuls were appointed in several treaty ports during the 19th century - with Canton (Guangzhou) and Shanghai as the most important destinations for Danish commerce.

The number of Danish companies doing business in China continued to grow during the 19th century and in 1896 the Danish government decided to send a professional Danish official to Shanghai as consul to support the growing commercial activities. However, the two largest Danish companies in China, Great Northern Telegraph Company and East Asiatic Company, both based in Shanghai, believed that it would be useful also to have a diplomatic mission in the Chinese capital, with direct official access to the Chinese Government.

The Danish law from 1908 on diplomatic and consular relations
In the spring of 1908 the Danish parliament was debating a bill on how to organize the promotion of Danish foreign trade. According to the new law, adopted on 27th of May 1908, the responsibility for Denmark’s foreign trade was placed with the Foreign Ministry, thereby integrating foreign trade as part of the overall Danish foreign policy. This important principle has worked well during the past hundred years.

The other aspect of the legislation dealt with the question on how Denmark should be represented in the Far East on a diplomatic and consular level. At this time Denmark only had a dozen embassies around the world, and the main question was if Denmark should also have a diplomatic mission in the capital of China.

In Copenhagen it was considered too expensive to open a Danish legation in Beijing in 1908. Instead there was an agreement in the Parliament that a young Danish diplomat should be sent to Beijing to take up the post as legation secretary at the Russian legation in Beijing, thereby establishing a special Danish interest section.

In 1912 it was decided in Copenhagen that after four years of cooperation with the Russians in China the time had come to establish a proper Danish legation in Beijing. This took place the same year, where Count Ahlefeldt - with the rank of minister - was appointed to become the head of the new Danish mission in the Legation Quarter.

An unbroken line of Danish heads of mission 
During World War II China was partly occupied by Japan and Denmark was occupied by Germany. After pressure from the German government, the Danish minister to Japan was accredited from Tokyo to the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo in Northern China, and the Danish minister in occupied Shanghai was accredited to the pro-Japanese government in Nanjing. However, Danish minister to the United States, Henrik Kauffmann, who had previously served as minister in China, served from Washington as the free Denmark’s envoy to the free China, with its headquarters in Chongqing. Indeed an unusual situation, where Denmark was represented with three different envoys in China at the same time.

After the war, Denmark resumed proper links with the Nationalist government in Nanjing, where Danish minister Alex Mørch presented his credentials to General Chiang Kai-shek in 1946. When Chairman Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China on 1st of October 1949, the Danish Government had to decide which way to go.

From PRC and forth

In a cable dated 9 January 1950 from the Danish foreign minister, Gustav Rasmussen, to China’s foreign minister, Zhou Enlai, the Danish government declared that it was ready to recognize the PRC and let Minister Mørch continue as Danish Minister to China. 11th of May Minister Mørch delivered his credentials signed by King Frederik IX to Chairman Mao in Beijing.

After 15 years in Shanghai, the Danish legation was re-established in Beijing in 1950 in today’s Nanheyan Dajie close to the Imperial Palace. In 1974 the Danish embassy changed its location to its present address in the embassy area in San Li Tun. New buildings within the embassy compound today witness the ongoing expansion of the bilateral relations between Denmark and China.

One hundred years have passed since the first Danish envoy arrived in the Chinese capital and many Danish heads of mission have followed without any interruption.

Reform and opening up 

China’s economic opening towards the outside world in the end of the 1970’s also marked an increase in the official visits of Danish ministers to China.

In 1979, Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II made a state visit to China. The Danish Queen was the first Western Monarch to visit the People’s Republic.

In 1974, Denmark’s Prime Minister Poul Hartling was, as one of the very first Western heads of government, invited on an official visit to the People’s Republic of China. During the visit the Danish Prime Minister had meetings with China’s leader, Mao Zedong, Prime Minister Zhou Enlai and Vice Prime Minister Deng Xiaoping.

As China has developed in various areas, the cooperation between Denmark and China has been marked by Chinas increasing integration into the international society which has led to a constructive dialogue in all areas of common interest.

Presently Denmark cooperates with China on a series of issues including climate, energy and environment, science, anti-corruption, technology and education, trade, global and environmental questions, as well as human rights.

List of Danish ambassadors to China

  • 1912-1920 – Preben F. Ahlefeldt-Laurvig
  • 1921-1923 – Janus F. Olesen
  • 1924-1932 – Henrik L.H. Kauffmann
  • 1932-1940 – Oscar L.F.A. O'Neill Oxholm
  • 1940-1946 – Hialmar Collin
  • 1946-1953 – Alex Mørch
  • 1953-1959 – Aage Gregersen
  • 1959-1962 – Hans Bertelsen
  • 1962-1965 – Anker Svart
  • 1965-1968 – Troels Oldenburg
  • 1968-1972 - Jørn Stenbæk Hansen
  • 1972-1976 - Janus A.W. Paludan
  • 1976-1980 – Kjeld Vilhelm Mortensen
  • 1980-1983 – Rudolph A. Thorning Petersen
  • 1983-1986 – Flemming Hedegaard
  • 1986-1991 – Arne Belling
  • 1991-1994 – William Friis-Møller
  • 1995-2001 – Christopher Bo Bramsen
  • 2001-2004 – Ole Lønsmann Poulsen
  • 2004-2007 – Laurids Mikaelsen
  • 2007-2010 – Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen
  • 2010-2015 – Friis Arne Petersen
  • 2015-         – A. Carsten Damsgaard

Joint Danish-Chinese Work Programme

The Danish-Chinese joint work programme was adapted during former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen's visit to China in May 2017.

You can find the joint work programme here.

The work programme offers an overview of bilateral cooperation between Denmark and China.

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Counsellor, Team Leader Foreign & Domestic Affairs, Coordinator Political Diplomacy