Province of Zuid-Holland mission to China – May 2018

From 12 until 19 May 2018, Regional Ministers Adri Bom-Lemstra and Jeannette Baljeu led a trade delegation to China. The immediate reason for the trade mission was the invitation to the Province of Zuid-Holland of its twin province, the Province of Hebei, as a ‘Guest Province of Honour’ during the Langfang Trade Fair on 18 May 2018.

The trade mission’s programme began on 13 May with a reception at the invitation of the Dutch Embassy in Beijing. Deputy Ambassador Bas Pulles received the delegation at the Ambassador’s residence. The provincial delegation consisted of 2 sub-delegations: the horticulture group led by Regional Minister Ms Bom and the sustainable urban development group led by Regional Minister Ms Baljeu.
The delegations each had their own programme from Monday 14 May until the following Wednesday afternoon. The sustainable urban development group visited Beijing, Qinghuangdao and the Taolinkou reservoir; the horticulture group visited Yanqing, Nanhe and Xingtai.
After that, they jointly visited the Xiongan New Area and participated in various activities of the Langfang Trade Fair and the ‘Developing & Feeding Sustainable Future Urban Regions’ seminar.

The delegation consisted of 55 participants, roughly one-third from the field of horticulture, a third from sustainable urban development, and a third from other fields, please refer to the enclosed list of participants. Agriculture, horticulture, and sustainable urban development were the central themes during the mission.
This report has been compiled thematically, each of the themes will be discussed one by one:

  • agriculture and horticulture
  • sustainable urban development
  • attracting investments in Zuid-Holland
  • government-to-government relationship
  • development of Supercity Xiongan

Agriculture and horticulture
Zuid-Holland’s excellent reputation amongst Heibei province’s council members for strong horticulture and technology was confirmed once again during this visit. In the coming years, sizeable investments are to be made in the development of agricultural parks, with special focus on servicing the higher market segments in Jing-Jin-Ji (Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei Province), as shown by, for example, the cooperation between the horticultural company CAU Futong with several Dutch companies, including Hoogendoorn and Codema Systems Group.

The first stop was a visit to Yanqing, a district which is organising the World Horti Expo in 2019 and will host a part of the Olympic Winter Games in 2022. There is a lot to be done in this district, which is also apparent from the enormous construction projects that are going on.
Yanqing’s goal is not only to the organise the temporary World Horti Expo, but to permanently strengthen its agricultural and horticultural sector by setting up a Horti Business District (HBD). Dutch companies as well as local companies that cooperate with Dutch companies and knowledge institutes are offered various facilities such as offices, subsidies and such, if they are willing to establish themselves in Yanqing. During a meeting, the Yanqing council was challenged with the proposed establishment of a demonstration centre 2.0 in Yanqing, to boost the sustainable development of its horticulture. This idea was received with enthusiasm, although details still need to be worked out. Yanqing will visit Zuid-Holland during the Greentech in Amsterdam in June, at which time this idea will be discussed in more detail.

On Tuesday 15 May, the horticulture group visited Xintai for a CAU Futong project. CAU Futong is part of the Chinese Agriculture University and focuses on the development of agro parks including advanced greenhouses, and it collaborates extensively with Dutch high-tech companies. Both Hoogendoorn and Codema signed an agreement with CAU Futong, and the Municipality of Lansingerland (61,000 inhabitants) signed an agreement with the Municipality of Xintai (7.8 million inhabitants). This way, Lansingerland’s efforts resulted in even more power to open doors for the Zuid-Holland business community.

After a quick interview for CCTV Hebei, Regional Minister Ms Bom and a small delegation visited the company Laudriz, which has constructed a greenhouse in which new technologies are used for an optimal production of, in particular, tomatoes. Delphy, with a branch in Lansingerland, arranges trainings for staff and the students of horticulture in this centre.
Alderman Albert Abee of Lansingerland was also part of the delegation. This strong horticultural couple was eminently suited to hand the recently graduated Delphy students their certificate, after which they were guided around the greenhouse and tasted the tomatoes.

Sustainable urban development
The programme for the sustainable urban development group led by Regional Minister Ms Baljeu started with a visit to Tsinghua Tongheng – an institute in the field of spatial development. This university spin-off has developed into a tremendous organisation. Numerous projects at national, regional and district level on integrated urban development were discussed. With a good Chinese-language proposition from Zuid-Holland, the companies were able to start the discussion and make some progress towards cooperation.

Deltares signed an agreement with the Taolinkou Reservoir Authority and the Water Resources Research Institute of Hebei province in Qinhuangdao, with the support of the Province of Zuid-Holland. A monitoring system will enable better predictions to prevent flooding and help optimise the water management of the Taolinkou reservoir and system.

Attracting investments in Zuid-Holland
During the opening reception on 13 May, InnovationQuarter signed a Confirmation Letter with Biotech company GenScript. GenScript offers a wide range of services and products in the field of Biotech and Pharma, including contract research. GenScript has confirmed that it will open an office at the Leiden Bio Science Park. One person (a European Sales Manager) of GenScript is already working from Leiden, which will be expanded in the coming period. An official opening of the office in Leiden is to follow. GenScript is a valuable addition to the Leiden biotech and pharmaceutical cluster. Innovation Quarter, in cooperation with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), has supported the company in its choice and its establishment in the Leiden Bio Science Park.

Bas Pulles told the Dutch delegation about the new wind in China that offers opportunities for businesses. During the reception, a lively discussion ensued on how to use those opportunities. It was also very effective that many Chinese organisations that were going to join later that week were present, so that the first contacts on relationship level could be made.

InnovationQuarter and NFIA also visited two companies who are seriously interested in opening a branch in Zuid-Holland. It is a (government-related) company in the field of aerospace, and a (private) business in the field of 3D printers.

The Tojoy Group, a company that InnovationQuarter is trying to get to settle in The Hague, organised a conference and gala dinner to which Regional Minister Baljeu was invited. Tojoy is a large Chinese investment platform that connects entrepreneurs, investors and start-ups on a large scale. It helps its members with its new concept to grow from, for example, 4 offices to 150 throughout China, in one year. It does this by having participating companies invest in each other. In the meantime, Tojoy has become internationally active as well, and already has a representative in The Hague.

IQ has spoken with the management of Tojoy and several new projects in which the members of Tojoy invest. Some of them may want to expand to The Netherlands. During the gala dinner, Regional Minister Baljeu together with the former president of Mexico, was an honorary guest. Both the structure of the investment platform and some of the companies invested in were very interesting to the Regional Minister and the delegation. InnovationQuarter will have follow-up interviews with Tojoy on the expansion of its activities in The Netherlands/The Hague.

Innovation Quarter, in cooperation with the NFIA, held a seminar aimed at CEOs of Chinese companies (particularly from the Hebei Province and Beijing), called the ‘Invest in Holland Promotion Conference’. The seminar was opened by Regional Minister Ms Baljeu.
During the seminar, attended by over 30 companies and more than 50 representatives, the establishment and investment opportunities in The Netherlands and particularly in Zuid Holland were explained, and the members of the Dutch delegation were given the opportunity to come into contact with the Chinese companies in the context of business development. IQ and NFIA will continue the contacts with the interested companies.

Government-to-government relationship
The relationship between Zuid Holland and Hebei took centre stage during the entire Zuid-Holland mission. Relationships with other organisations were established and deepened. One of those organisations is the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC). During a meeting with the CPAFFC, Zuid-Holland received a proposal to collaborate on the second friendship conference between Chinese and Dutch municipalities and provinces. The first took place in 2017 in The Hague, of which Zuid-Holland was co-organiser. The CPAFFC already had the idea to link the second English Chinese conference to the developments around Xiongan, the new town in the Hebei province, as well as the World Horti Expo in 2019 in Yanqing. Relationships and mutual trust were of great importance here, as well.

The relationship with local authorities is very important to the Province. The Province encourages and supports the partnerships formed at regional level between Alphen aan den Rijn and Langfang, and Lansingerland and Xingtai.

The opening of the Zuid-Holland Pavilion on Thursday 17 May by the Vice-Governor of Hebei, Ms Xia Yanjun and Regional Minister Ms Baljeu on the international trade fair in Langfang in the Chinese Hebei province, was an impressive display.

A pavilion of 500 m2, of which we can be proud! The strength of Zuid-Holland, culturally, as strong economic sectors and the way we address social issues, clearly shows. Everyone was impressed by how beautiful and ‘grand’ our pavilion looked. And it was sociable, with cake, cheese and beer, and Chinese girls in Dutch costume.
The following day we were very pleasantly surprised by an unexpected visit by Governor Xu Qin of the Hebei Province to the Zuid-Holland Pavilion. This created a lot of attention and press moments among TV crews, photographers and other followers.

The official opening of the exhibition was a day full of protocol. It started with the official opening of the trade fair. This time, not a great spectacle but a reasonably sober opening, with a number of consecutive speeches by important directors from Hebei, the Chinese government and, for example, the IOC.

A tour of the exhibition area was followed by a courtesy call to the government of the Hebei Province. Here, too, compliments of the Vice-Governor for our beautiful pavilion, the fact that there is so much good content and that we brought together the largest foreign delegation for this event. Bas Pulles – the Deputy Ambassador we had met earlier in the week – was also present. As a well-attuned team, both Regional Ministers gave a good overview of what we had achieved over the past week and which following steps we believe are possible.

Development of Supercity Xiongan
Together with the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, the development of new Xiongan New Area is one of the strategic highlights within the Chinese government’s policy, with great consequences for the country itself, and for the surrounding countries. This city is to arise to the south-west of Beijing during the coming decades, mainly in Hebei Province.

At the invitation of Governor Xu Qin of Hebei province, Jaap Smit participated in the Boao Forum for Asia on the island Hainan earlier this year, in April 2018, where he already met with Governor Xu Qin about the possibilities and opportunities in Xiongan for the Dutch (Zuid-Holland) business community. This Forum is an annual summit meeting of Asian leaders and Jaap Smit conducted various discussions there about the Chinese plans for the development of the new supercity Xiongan, during which he even had the opportunity to take part in a TV debate on urbanisation for the Chinese national television channel CCTV.

The efforts of CdK Smit were followed up by the trade mission of Regional Ministers Bom and Baljeu. The Zuid-Holland delegation was the first foreign delegation to visit the area of Xiongan, a city that is to unburden Beijing and to bring economic growth to the Hebei province, which is lagging in terms of wealth. Hebei also creates a lot of ‘nuisance’ to the capital, in the form of pollution. Water plays a crucial role in the development of the city, hence the 366km2 Baiyangdian Lake-wetlands play a prominent part in the development of the area.

Xiongan is one of Xi Jinping’s strategic projects. After the success stories of Shanghai Pudong and Shenzhen, Xiongan must also become a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

The visit to the first part of Xiongan was fascinating. Not all grand plans have been shown. They remain state secrets until later this year, when they will be presented during a large national conference. We saw a ‘model’ district with offices, a hotel, self-propelled cars, trees, and decorated with sponge city materials. Everything is now being tested to see if it will work. The design is reminiscent of Green village, but on a larger scale.

During a boat trip on the lake, it became apparent that they still use strong-smelling engines and not whisper boats, as we would. We received a lot of explanation here – and a number of us were able to ’question’ the planning office employee of the new city.

Zuid-Holland also organised a seminar in Langfang, on the subject of ‘Developing & Feeding Future Urban Regions’. With the presentations from a spatial angle, the LDE (Leiden, Delft, Erasmus) and the Greenports Zuid-Holland have given their Chinese partners food for thought. Everyone sees the combination and integrated approach of sustainable cities, water and food, and talk about qualitative growth. But how do you realise that? That question has not been answered yet, but the Chinese side wants to think about a collaboration platform with us, to work together on this issue.

Regional Minister Ms Bom visited the Hebei Agricultural University (HAU) in Baoding at the request of InHolland. The subject of conversation was the cooperation between Hebei Agricultural University and Hogeschool InHolland, and especially focused on the quality of the training of HAU-students who participate in an exchange programme between the two schools. During this conversation, Regional Minister Mns Bom stressed the importance of cooperation and urged both knowledge institutions to continuate their cooperation.

On Friday afternoon, a spontaneous visit to the Fokker Elmo establishment in Langfang was made as well. This company produces the cabling systems for civil aviation. Director Rob van Hemert gave a fascinating insight and tour of the Fokker-establishment.

Overview results of the provincial trade mission

  • Agreement InnovationQuarter and GenScript to expand a branch in Leiden
  • Contract between Deltares and the Taolinkou Reservoir authorities for the deployment of a monitoring system
  • Agreement between Arcadis and Runheng on the creation of a Sponge City Project for the Hebei Institute of Water Resources
  • Agreement between Hoogendoorn and CAU Futong on a strategic cooperation in the field of Greenhouse Technology
  • Agreement between Codema Sytems Group and CAU Futong on a project in Nanhe, Xongtai.
  • Strategic cooperation between the Municipality of Lansingerland and the city of Xingtai to develop the agriculture and horticulture sector in Xingtai
  • Strategic cooperation between the Municipality of Alphen aan den Rijn and the city of Langfang
  • Agreement between Hebei IGMPR and Hebei Zhitu Agriculture Technology to develop an agro park in Gaobeidian
  • Presentation of certificates for a horticultural training by Delphy in cooperation with Laudriz at their facility in Sanhe
  • Presentation of a certificate to CAU Futong, making them an official member of LTO Glaskracht