2017 in consular review: last year’s diplomatic achievements and their hopes, plans for 2018

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/2 18:13:39

GT asks 23 consuls general in Shanghai what they accomplished over the past 12 months and what they intend for the future. Here are the second eight.

Karina Morales Herrera, Consul General of Ecuador

Shanghai has witnessed a huge increase in the use of technology within people's daily lives. In 2017, I saw that the sharing bicycle system was in the process of improving and people are learning a new way of using a bicycle within their daily life. The transport system card is now integrated, and our Ecuadorian community in Shanghai can conveniently now top-up their card using their Alipay.

The increased use of smartphones for payment has had a significant effect for me personally as well. Now in Ecuador, we are beginning to see a use of electronic money for payment, therefore I hope my country can learn from Shanghai and China's technological efficiency and security.

In 2018 our consulate will promote Ecuadorian cacao and chocolate, because it is not only part of our history, but also part of our historical relationship with China. Therefore, visiting the cacao and chocolate route should be an important destination for Chinese tourists. Our focus in 2018 will be on promoting this.

I arrived in Shanghai two and a half years ago, and every year since then I have noticed an improvement in air quality. I hope we will have even better air quality in 2018 in comparison with past years. I would also like to see an increased focus on recycling across the city, because currently only some districts in Shanghai are focusing on this.

Shanghai has a great cultural program and is always international and diverse. It is exciting to host some of the best artists from all over the world in Shanghai. I hope that this cultural interest will continue in 2018 and that we can contribute with at least a couple of Ecuadorian art exhibitions.

John Edwards, Consul General of the UK


I think for the government, the most fun thing was to go back with the mayor of Shanghai to the UK.

Shanghai won the WorldSkills Competition. We will be working very closely with Shanghai on the WorldSkills Competition in 2021. In terms of business, we held our biggest-ever British trade fair here at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. For culture, for me the highlight was the British Museum: A History of the World in 100 Objects came to the Shanghai Museum. That was a fantastic, world-beating exhibition.

On the government side, I think we are hoping to get some big visitors over from the UK. We expect our Prime Minister to come to China sometime in 2018.

On the cultural side we have the Tate Gallery, which I think will be a real highlight.

And on the business side, perhaps one of the biggest events is the China International Import Expo in November 2018.

I think it will be nice if some of Shanghai's roads which are currently closed to bicycles would open up. That requires the infrastructures to allow bikes to cycle freely around. And there're lots of great statistics that show how much room in a city cars take up per person per unit mile compared to bicycles. Bicycles are really taking only a very small proportion of the place.

The other thing I think would be great is a big British craft beer revolution. Chinese people are drinking more and more beer, and I really hope you can choose British beer which is more subtle and nicer than others. That would improve everybody's life if they drank more British beer. It certainly improved my life.

Kristin Iglum, Consul General of Norway


I have to highlight the visit of our Prime Minister Erna Solberg. She came to China in April 2017 and spent a wonderful day in Shanghai, having a very busy program. I think this was a very important visit for Norway in the way underlining the importance of bilateral relations between China and Norway and really pushing relations forward.

Important topics during her visit were environmental technology, maritime cooperation, education cooperation and also Arctic cooperation.

In 2018 we will continue promoting China-Norway ties. I expect high level visits from Norway to China and also to Shanghai. The consulate plans to organize a Norwegian brunch event where we can promote Norwegian food.

Because Norway is an Arctic nation and Arctic cooperation is very important between our two countries, we actually plan to have a big Arctic festival where we can combine both science research collaboration and also Arctic arts, policy related issues and businesses.

We know the Chinese really like Norwegian seafood and Norwegian salmon in particular. Also Norway is a very popular tourist destination for Chinese tourists. So it will be on top of our agenda in 2018 to promote Norway as a winter tourist destination for Chinese where they can experience the northern lights if they go up to the northern part of Norway.

One topic we hope we can work closer on in 2018 is green shipping. Shanghai being such an important maritime city and where we already have so long a collaboration to draw on, I think we can hopefully share our experiences when it comes to making shipping greener and more sustainable.

Christine Althauser, Consul General of Germany


I arrived in Shanghai at the end of August 2017, so I am still really a newcomer. At the end of the 1980s I was posted to Beijing and, to be honest, coming back to China in 2017 - and now to Shanghai - was like returning to a different country.

At first glance, of course, Shanghai is an impressive megacity with very modern and international flair. I am very keen to look beyond that first impression and to understand more of the developments and changes taking place. Being very interested in the Chinese language, the culture and the history of China since my school days, I will try to find some answers by following those traces.

In Germany, following the Bundes-tag elections in September 2017 and a possible change in our government's policies, we expect many delegations from Germany to come to Shanghai in 2018.

And given the huge support of Chinese football fans for the German team, I am especially looking forward to the upcoming World Cup. During my last posting to China, Germany won the World Cup in 1990. I take this as a good omen for 2018 and hope the team will defend its title.

My Chinese name is Ou Zhen, once "invented" for me by a wonderful Chinese teacher. It is short and snappy, I can easily write it down (only two characters!). I especially like the meaning behind it, the notion of Europe. I very much cherish the idea of a unified Europe. For me, it is the most important peace project ever created. And I am proud to serve and be part of that impressive undertaking.

My wish for 2018? Less tension, more cooperation. I know, easy to say, sometimes difficult to achieve. We all have to work on it.

Yok Yee Chan, Consul General of Fiji


Last year I oversaw the expansion of Fiji's Consulate General office in Shanghai, moving from a much smaller working space to our current office, with a bigger team. This signified the increasing importance of improved bilateral relations between China and Fiji. While Fiji is a small island nation and we do not have many products to export, we do have a few premium Fijian-made products that are well-known internationally. These include Fiji Water (bottled water) and Pure Fiji (cosmetic products) - both are available in China.

The main focus for the Fiji Consulate General in 2018 is to continue advancing bilateral trade and investment relations through increased marketing and promotional activities. The China International Import Expo is to be held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10 in 2018. Shanghai is the financial and commercial hub of China and Fiji is the hub of the Pacific. Our participation in this upcoming expo will further improve both sides' understanding of each other's markets, as well as offering a unique platform for entrepreneurs to come together seeking potential business and trade opportunities.

Also, the setting up of Tourism Fiji's office in China (will) most probably (happen) in Shanghai. Fiji is a very friendly tourism destination, well-known for its beautiful landscape, pristine environment, diverse culture and friendly people. Chinese citizens do not need a tourist visa to visit Fiji. Our tourism industry setting up an office in China is a crucial step toward attracting more Chinese tourists. We are hopeful that direct flights from the Chinese mainland to Fiji can commence in 2018 after negotiations are successfully concluded.

Luc Decker, Consul General of Luxembourg


Personally, for having been here for more than four years now, what impressed me most is that Shanghai moved from a cash-based society to a cashless society, where everyone now is paying with their mobile phone.

Another thing impressive to me was the grand opening of the new Shanghai Tower. I remember when I was here during the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, they were still building the foundation.

For Luxembourg and China, in 2017 we celebrated 45 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This was a very special anniversary. In June of 2017, our Prime Minister visited China. This was very impressive, we had great receptions in Beijing and I had the chance to also be part of the meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

For Luxembourg and Shanghai, probably the highlight of 2017 was the visit of our Minster of Finance. We see that now most of the largest Chinese banks have set up their EU hub in Luxembourg, including Bank of Communications from Shanghai.

For this year, we will continue to deepen our relationship and cooperation in the technology and environmental fields. We will focus specially on Green Finance and FinTech.

In 2018, a Luxembourg chocolate maker will open the Chocolate House in Shanghai's Jing'an district, and I'm very much looking forward to that. I am also looking forward to the Sino-EU tourism year, that will certainly increase tourism in both directions.

For people's lives, I hope that Shanghai will remain as open and welcoming to foreigners and expats as it has been in the past.

Kazuyuki Katayama, Consul General of Japan


Last year marked the 45th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations. There were many impressive events, such as a concert in Shanghai by the famous Japanese singer Shinji Tanimura and a lecture by famous author Naoki Matayoshi for publishing a Chinese translation of his book.

Last year our Consulate General issued roughly 1.85 million visas, which accounts for one-third of all visas issued by Japanese embassies and consulates overseas. I realize that this area is the frontline of China-Japan exchange.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between our two countries. In November 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe respectively held summit meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Vietnam and with Premier Li Keqiang in the Philippines. They reached a consensus to dedicate themselves to the advancement of bilateral cooperation in all aspects based on the "Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests," and it was a new beginning of bilateral relations.

As China's economic and financial center, Shanghai is a city of great importance not only to China but also to the whole world. Our jurisdictional area including Shanghai accounts for roughly 80 percent of investments from Japan in China, 45 percent of the China-Japan bilateral trade, 60 percent of Japanese residents in China, and 70 percent of Japanese companies in China.

I have seen with surprise that Chinese people's lives are getting wealthier and more convenient, exemplified by the rapid spreading of various services utilizing smartphone payment systems.

Anna Adema, Consul General of the Netherlands

Personally I think impressive things are happening all the time in Shanghai, and that is exactly what makes Shanghai unique.

In this respect I would like to refer to the always present drive, dynamics and ambitions for the future, in particular in the areas of innovation, finance and sustainability.

It goes without saying that the Netherlands Consulate General in Shanghai is permanently looking into possibilities for connecting Shanghai ambitions to opportunities in Sino-Dutch cooperation. Our focus is to promote Sino-Dutch cooperation in areas of common interest and shared challenges. And there are many!

Of course our economic-related activities are in areas of innovation, sustainability, agriculture and water. But also other areas deserve attention, like health and elderly care, areas where both China and the Netherlands can learn from mutual experiences.

Besides, we focus on creating more mutual understanding by connecting people-to-people, cooperation between universities, exchange of students and not to forget our cultural programing of Dutch artists in Shanghai.

I would like to see more tulips in the city, which are an important symbol of my country. Chinese people love flowers and we hope tulips will remind them of the Netherlands.

I sincerely express the wish that the 30,000 red and orange tulips we offered the city of Shanghai will make many Shanghainese smile in the spring of 2018!


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