China & the Netherlands: current relations and migration

Februar 27, 2024

As mentioned in the previous article, this week’s article will provide insights regarding the current relations between the Netherlands and China, as well as migration between the two countries.

Early Chinese migration to the Netherlands originated primarily from two main sources: traders from Qingtian, Zhejiang, who commenced arriving after World War I, and sailors of Guangdong descent from the British Chinese community. Additionally, another early group of ethnic Chinese in the Netherlands consisted of students, largely hailing not from China itself, but from Chinese communities in the Dutch East Indies. Beginning with a cohort of 20 in 1911, their numbers steadily rose, albeit interrupted by World War II. By 1957, out of approximately 1,400 ethnic Chinese from Indonesia in the Netherlands, 1,000 were students. This group established the Chung Hwa Hui in 1911, maintaining connections with various Chinese organizations and political parties in Europe. Mainly of Peranakan descent, these students typically spoke the Indonesian language as their primary language and had received their early education in Dutch-medium schools. However, with escalating tensions in Indonesia–Netherlands relations in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the number of students significantly declined.

Despite the decrease in Chinese students from Indonesia, tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese were compelled to depart the country due to the turbulent political climate in Indonesia in 1965. While many resettled in China, the United States, or Australia, those with a Dutch education predominantly chose the Netherlands as their destination. Although precise statistics are unavailable, it’s estimated that around 5,000 migrants arrived during this period. Similar to the students, these migrants generally did not speak Chinese, with Indonesian language as their mother tongue and Dutch as their academic language. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Hong Kong emerged as another significant source of Chinese migrants to the Netherlands, with an influx of approximately 600 to 800 migrants per year, decreasing to around 300 to 400 per year by the late 1980s.

Furthermore, in the 1980s, the Netherlands gained popularity among students from mainland China, partly due to lower tuition fees compared to the United Kingdom and easier access to student visas compared to the United States.

While leaving the side the history, it is to mention that a significant moment for the ties between the two countries is the year 2022 when China and the Netherlands celebrated 50 years of friendship while continuing to strengthen their bilateral relations.

On this note, the Netherlands continues to serve as a key entry point for China-EU collaboration, with the relationships between China and the Netherlands experiencing a growth momentum. Following the pandemic, exchanges across multiple sectors between the two countries have been completely restored, and the significant increase in Dutch exports to China underscores the considerable potential for cooperation between them. Trade ties between the Netherlands and China remain robust, with China standing as the Netherlands‘ foremost trading partner in Asia. The Netherlands expresses its readiness to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation with China and collaborate towards advancing the comprehensive partnership between the two nations even further.


Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of the Netherlands . (2022, May 17). Open and Pragmatic Partnership for Comprehensive Cooperation – Building on the sound foundations of 50 years of friendship, China and the Netherlands continue to strengthen their ties. Retrieved from Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of the Netherlands:

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. (2016). China and the Netherlands. Retrieved from Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of the Netherlands:

Global Times. (2023, November 09). Netherlands remains a ‘gateway’ for China-EU cooperation, says Chinese foreign minister. Retrieved from Global Times:

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