（UrbanCNet)——2017 EU-China Forum on Sustainable Urban Development kicked off in Putian, Fujian on March 20. This forum was organized by China Center for Urban Development of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), co-organized by Eurocities, JPI Urban Europe, and European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, and implemented by Putian People’s Government of Fujian Province, with special support from EU Delegation to P.R. China.
At the Forum
|Deputy Director General Shen Chi from China Center for Urban Development of NDRC moderated the keynote dialogues.|
The main forum that took place on the morning of the day featured two keynote dialogues—“EU-China Cooperation Model and Mechanism” and “EU-China Complementary Advantages and Innovation Practices.” Both sessions were chaired by Deputy Director General Shen Chi from China Center for Urban Development of NDRC.
Keynote Dialogue I: EU-China Cooperation Model and Mechanism
Speakers in the first dialogue voiced their own opinions on how EU and China teamed up in terms of urbanization. The speakers included Wang Junfeng, Division Director of the Department of Development Planning under NDRC, Qiao Runling, Deputy Director General of China Center for Urban Development of NDRC, Zheng Dongli, Division Director of the Department of European Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gregory Morchiladze, Secretary-General of Georgia-China Friendship Association, Bernhard Mueller, Academician of the National Academy of Science and Engineering (Germany), and Massimo Bagnasco, Executive Committee Member of European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.
Wang Junfeng, Division Director of the Department of Development Planning under NDRC
When it comes to such fields as urban construction, low-carbon operation, city management, featured industry, construction of small towns, and urban environmental protection, EU and China have so much in common that they could seek for cooperation; but they actually have more difference in those aspects, Mr. Qiao pointed out. As their partnership goes deeper, sufficient innovation would be required in specific approach to cooperation. For instance, uneven distribution of resources exists between EU chambers of commerce and China’s governments or between large and small cities. Differences like that are what they could not afford to ignore. A win-win outcome desired by both sides is made possible only with innovative cooperation models that vary according to different backgrounds.
|Gregory Morchiladze, Secretary-General of Georgia-China Friendship Association|
As Mr. Gregory Morchiladze noted, Georgia is an important hub that connects Europe and Asia and it borders many countries in all four directions. Sailing off from Poti, one can reach cities of many countries worldwide such as Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. As a bridge between continents of Europe and Asia, the country features stable, secure politics and economy, which turns out to be a magnet for numerous investors and economic partners. So far, it has signed a free trade agreement with China and joined hands in building the Poti Free Industrial Zone. In the future, a new smart town is possible to be built for stronger bilateral relations. As along as China and Georgia are confident and determined enough, both their diplomatic, economic bonds are sure to bear more fruit.
|Bernhard Mueller, Academician of the National Academy of Science and Engineering (Germany)|
In his speech about sustainable urban development, Mr. Bernhard Mueller pointed out that EU-China partnership could be measured against a broader international background where sustainable development remained the ultimate target. To do so, both sides are required to switch their paradigms in urban planning and treatment. Once worked out, such a model or approach will guide global cities to find out new paths towards sustainable development. Additionally, the German government drew up an agenda about strategic research and innovation in 2015. Instead of being driven by technology, it is based on the entire society. Under this agenda, urban livability should be taken into account. Livability and sociality are to occupy a key position in scientific research and innovative practices. Besides, social inclusiveness should be an inherent feature of smart cities; technological developments must cater to the needs of a society. To be sustainable, urbanization should become economically energetic and socially inclusive. This is also a field that merits more cooperation and exploration from EU and China in the future.
|Massimo Bagnasco, Executive Committee Member of European Union Chamber of Commerce in China|
Mr. Massimo Bagnasco suggested that EU and China should firstly take note of their difference in scale and volume before any other things, while teaming up to promote urbanization. Despite the common vision and mission in the future urban development, the two sides still need to do a great number of surveys and preparations to help them better understand various concepts and backgrounds. The second thing that merits attention is the cooperation model. Today, industrial cooperation is going on in updated models. EU and China may extend their cooperation to such new fields as personnel exchanges, life sciences and preservation of historic sites. These fields will bring neighboring regions with new vigor and opportunities. Therefore, EU-China cooperation deserves consideration from a grander perspective.
Keynote Dialogue II: EU-China Complementary Advantages and Innovation Practices
In the second keynote dialogue, discussions revolved around “EU-China Complementary Advantages and Innovation Practices.” Guests attending and addressing this session included Yu Binyang, Director General of Center for Sci&Tech and Industrial Development under the Ministry of Housing and Rural-Urban Development, Wang Yanfeng, Vice Mayor of Linfen City, Shanxi Province, Ren Qingxin, Executive Deputy General Manager of CEFC China Energy Company Limited, Li Ping, Dean of Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) “Belt & Road” Research Institute for Economic Integration, Manfred Horvat, Senior Advisor of European Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe (JPI UE), and Florian Schmied, Chairman of European Union Sustainable Urbanization Association (EUSUA).
|Yu Binyang, Director General of Center for Sci&Tech and Industrial Development under the Ministry of Housing and Rural-Urban Development|
As Mr. Yu Binyang introduced, there are many opportunities for China and EU to gain complementary advantages and carry out innovation practices together. By doing so, they can also achieve bright prospects. But it should be noted that planning is essential and comes before any other things. The desired plans need to respect nature, history, culture, diversified needs of humans and legal systems. Efforts should be made to protect natural landscape, in which cities are located, and renowned cities, towns and villages with a long history. Technical cooperation is the second priority China and EU should consider in their collaboration. They are expected to shore up their technical support for green, sustainable development. Furthermore, adequate public space needs to be reserved so that their sustainable urban development will compromise no public interest and they are spatially able to deliver quality public products and services in a continuous manner.
|Wang Yanfeng, Vice Mayor of Linfen City, Shanxi Province|
Mr. Wang Yanfeng made a brief introduction to Linfen City. “Linfen is a city with a long history and abundant natural resources. It is also an important hub that connects continents of Europe and Asia with sound facilities like airports and high-speed railways,” he said. “The city has a vast coal reserve. But it is also a victim of its richness in the mineral and now desperately needs transformation and leap-forward development.” Now in-depth negotiations as to innovative growth, regional economy, personnel exchange and other aspects are going on between Linfen and some European countries. This year, the city is estimated to ink a cooperative agreement with Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia) in Germany and is likely to join China International Cities Development Alliance officially. Looking into the future, it will vigorously fulfill its responsibilities, strengthen communication and coordination between Chinese and foreign cities, and get prepared to work with its European counterparts at multiple levels.
|Ren Qingxin, Executive Deputy General Manager of CEFC China Energy Company Limited|
Mr. Ren Qingxin shared with the attendees about CEFC China’s innovation practice in promoting EU-China cooperation. While implementing China’s “Belt & Road” initiative overseas, CEFC China has teamed up with many countries including the Czech Republic, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Romania. It wrapped up many cooperation projects of strategic significance through such means as acquiring local energy companies, heavy industrial enterprises and airlines, incorporating banks and foundations, and creating common markets. In the future, the company will continue to act on China’s state strategies and step up its innovative cooperation with European companies against the backdrop of “Belt & Road” initiative.
|Li Ping, Dean of Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) “Belt & Road” Research Institute for Economic Integration|
In his speech, Mr. Li Ping explained to the audience many new Chinese phrases that had come into the spotlight in recent years such as “new normal” “supply-side reform” and “new globalization.” As he pointed out, the ultimate importance of the “Belt & Road” initiative lies in that EU-China comprehensive strategic cooperation will become a reality and thus lead to a stable global pattern where the two and the US stand in a triangle shape and the situation where two powers pit against each other ends. The implementation of the aforesaid initiative is made possible with the following two moves. The first is to introduce the mode of “second hometown.” Chinese companies need to take countries where they conduct cooperation projects as their second hometown. In other words, they should have their R&D, production, sales, personnel management and corporate governance practices really rooted in local communities before they truly go global. The second is to carry out M&As that reverse the conventional trend. To be specific, companies from developing countries should engage in M&As in developed ones so as to upgrade themselves. In this process, approaches to implicit cooperation may be taken into account.
Manfred Horvat, Senior Advisor of European Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe (JPI UE)
The increasingly complicated urban development and life, soaring unemployment rate, worsening environment, sluggish economy, tightened national fiscal policies and impaired ability in accumulating wealth across a society altogether pose challenges on many countries all over the world. This big picture requires EU and China to join hand in hand, align each other’s development strategy, and allow their respective accumulated wealth to take effect, Mr. Manfred Horvat mentioned in his speech. A solution or an interdisciplinary, cross-sector approach is needed to tackle challenges confronting urban areas. At the same time, technology and social innovation deserve more influence and should be applied into more fields in a reasonable way. Reponses to social issues not only involve social sciences but also other technical aspects. To deal with the existing challenges, different countries should integrate their policies and plans effectively. Innovative solutions remain to be worked out on both the EU and Chinese parts.
|Florian Schmied, Chairman of European Union Sustainable Urbanization Association (EUSUA)|
Mr. Florian Schmied employed statistics to demonstrate how huge the potential of the Chinese market is and its demand for Europe’s innovative technologies and products. In his words, according to statistics, the Chinese market is quite huge for Europe. As urbanization advanced, the expansion of the middle-class population brought more opportunities. In the future, technology, finance and commercial service will become major fields where EU and China are about to seek cooperation. EUSUA, as an EU demonstration project under the framework of the Joint Declaration on EU-China Partnership on Urbanization in 2012, will continue to help European companies and industry clusters march into the Chinese market.
This forum was honored to have a variety of participants. They were officials from NDRC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Housing and Rural-Urban Development, and other ministries and commissions on the Chinese side, more than 50 foreign guests from nearly 20 EU governments, institutions and companies, as well as hundreds of persons from 30 cities across 20 provinces. Chinese and foreign guests in attendance shared their ideas and demonstration modes as to urban development, exchanged their experience and practices in city construction, promoted best practices of different cities, and studied how to enrich their cooperation mode and mechanism.
The leaders of China and EU signed the Joint Declaration on the EU-China Partnership on Urbanization in 2012, opening a new chapter for the two sides’ cooperation in urbanization. In the past five years, both parties have constantly expanded their cooperation fields, continuously deepened cooperation content and pragmatically advanced cooperation projects.