From 17 to 22 November, the King’s Commissioner Jaap Smit and Regional Minister Adri Bom-Lemstra were in China together with representatives of 30 businesses from Zuid-Holland. The delegation focussed on sustainable development and modernisation of agriculture and horticulture during their trade mission. The mission focused on creating projects and bringing in orders for South Holland companies in the field of Greenport technology, sustainable urban development and water management. These are sectors in which South Holland companies are traditionally strong. The cities of Beijing, Xiongan, Shijiazhuang, Hengshui and Shanghai were visited in varying composition.
The kick-off of the trade mission was at the Dutch Embassy in Beijing. After the presentation and informal acquaintance, the delegation visited the new China office of Codema.
In 2019, the company opened their office in China. Adri Bom-Lemstra and the mayor of Lansingerland, Albert Abee, officially opened the office. During the opening, it became clear that Dutch companies increasingly work together in China.
Agri- and horticulture
In China, the production of enough and safe food is high on the agenda. Traditional agriculture can no longer meet the needs of fast-growing metropolises and quality is becoming an increasingly important approach for the growing middle class. In China, the Netherlands is seen as an important player that can contribute to the development of agriculture and horticulture in China.
Feeding and Greening the MegaCity
On 18 November, Dutch Sino Business Promotions organized, with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Dutch Embassy, the ‘Feeding and Greening MegaCity’ in Beijing. The theme of the seminar was the sustainable urban development and modern agriculture and horticulture’s role in that.
Prior to the conference, the directors in the delegation and the Dutch ambassador had an informal conversation with the vice mayor of Beijing. They then gave the first speeches of the congress and offered the framework for the important ambitions and developments in China and the Netherlands to an audience consisting of nearly 300 experts and policymakers. The experts discussed in the part that followed.
Our core message is that from the challenges (growing cities, decreasing surface area of agricultural land, water scarcity, low agricultural productivity due to small scale and low education level), the Netherlands has good solutions to offer with technology, the ability to work cross-sectoral and the ability to adjust to local conditions. The challenge is to find good Chinese partners to develop a joint approach and put it into practice.
On November 19, the sustainable development delegation travelled by train to Xiongan led by Jaap Smit. Xiongan is the new mega city that is to become the new sustainable model for the whole of China with instructions about the design of Xi Jinping itself. In 2017, Adri Bom-Lemstra and Jeannette Baljeu had already seen the use of data in development, transport and services. Now Jaap Smit got a glimpse into the “base” of the city.
All pipes are now constructed at once, with an underground system for transporting goods on top of them and on top of that the roads at ground level. The metro will be constructed under this 30-meter deep construction, as will the water reservoirs.
In the official consultation with the authorities of Xiongan, Zuid-Holland has indicated that it can contribute to the development of this model city, based on a practical and result-oriented approach.
The first step is for Xiongan to send an expert group on a study visit to South Holland for a (paid) training. This should be the prelude to concrete projects where partners from both sides work together. During lunch, the first agreements were made with the designated contact person from Xiongan on how to put this into practice quickly.
A major conference was held in Hebei Province in collaboration with the Water Department and the Water Academy. Zuid-Holland already has a long-term cooperation with them, from which a good picture has been obtained over the years of where the questions and challenges are. Within Hebei these lie in the areas of groundwater, surface water, effects of climate change and the related challenges in the future in urban areas. China indicates to be interested in training, monitoring, materials and systems for monitoring, vision on liveability in urban areas, nature and recreation (around rivers and cities). The province appreciates our regular visits with companies, discussions, involvement and contributions to meetings. Dutch companies are getting more and more information about new initiatives and can present themselves on their expertise.
On Thursday, the sustainable urban development group went to Hengshui, a wetlands area. The PIB consortium sees opportunities in Henghshui, which came a step closer to cashing in at the “International Ecological Civiliation Conference of Hengshui Lake”. Jaap Smit was invited to give a key-note speech on behalf of South Holland to promote the Dutch approach.
Government-to-government agreements with Hebei and Shanghai Pudong
Discussions took place in Hebei with several vice-governors on 20 November. The aim of Zuid-Holland was to achieve a high-level expert group and a method that leads to results faster. This was welcomed by the Hebei government. The province may nominate experts for the Hebei expert advisory board, both governments will set up an intersectoral working group and set up several concrete pilots with the companies. Zuid-Holland is the first foreign region with which Hebei will collaborate in such a way. Next year with the drawing of the new MOU this must be installed.
On Friday, November 21, the official meeting was held with the Shanghai Pudong government. The MoU between South Holland and Pudong has expired since the summer of 2019. The purpose of this mission was to explore whether extending the MoU has added value. The consul-general in Shanghai has advised South Holland to be open to this. The first exchange of ideas was promising; At our request, several Pudong departments presented a number of concrete initiatives.
An ongoing Deltares project on “urban flood management” was a successful example. The conclusion was that the realization of projects can be accelerated. Just like in Hebei, we have agreed on a more effective working method with a stronger involvement of the Zuid-Holland entrepreneurs. In the administrative session with Adri Bom-Lemstra and the vice mayor of Pudong and the informal lunch meeting, this line was also endorsed administratively.
Representative of different companies gave their opinion about (the importance of) the trade mission. Click on the video below to see parts of their interviews:
This was not the first trade mission co-organized by Dutch Sino Business Promotions. Throughout the years the company has gained experience of organizing missions and events in China. In collaboration with the Province of Zuid-Holland, businesses working on, for instance, water management and urban development have obtained a firm footing in China during that time.
For example: Deltares, Royal Eijkelkamp and Arcadis, or agriculture companies such as Hoogendoorn, Codema, Delphy and Priva.
And knowledge institutions like Erasmus IHS, Wageningen UR, InHolland and Lentiz also gladly avail themselves of the province’s relations and the doors they may open.