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

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/3 18:58:39

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 final seven.


Alexander Hoffet, Consul General of Switzerland

 

As Shanghai reinvents itself permanently, I always have numerous memorable impressions in this lively city every year.

To name just a few, I am impressed how the policies to combat air pollution had already a visible effect last year, the number of days with blue sky slowly increasing. I was astonished by the accelerated spread of shared bicycles taking over Shanghai.

However, from a Western perspective, one of the most impressive current developments in Chinese cities is the fast rise of mobile payment systems such as Alipay and WeChat.

Shanghai attracted a lot of attention in Switzerland when our Finance Minister, Federal Councilor Ueli Maurer visited the city with a high-level finance delegation in April 2017. The delegation members expressed great interest in the development of innovative FinTech in China and announced intentions to deepen the links between the financial centers of Shanghai and Switzerland.

In 2018, we will mainly focus on reinforcing the Sino-Swiss Innovative Strategic Partnership, focusing on collaboration in higher education, research and innovation.

However, we will also offer a rich program of cultural events in 2018. Since most of them are still in course of preparation, I recommend interested readers to subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed.

Looking into the future, I see major challenges in the field of access to affordable healthcare, which is especially important for the growing middle class and the aging population. In the field of public health management, Switzerland has a lot of know-how to share.

Actually there is already an ongoing cooperation program between Shanghai and the city of Basel in the health sector.

Lisette Lindahl, Consul General of Sweden



2017 was a fruitful year for us, with some significant efforts to strengthen the bond between China and Sweden. The biggest highlight was the visit by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to China in late June. Apart from Beijing, the Prime Minister and his delegation also visited Shanghai, where he met with Mayor Ying Yong, and Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, where he visited Alibaba and met with the company founder Jack Ma Yun.

Throughout the year we organized several trade and cultural activities in Shanghai aimed at promoting Swedish brands and increasing friendly exchange among Chinese and Swedish people. During the summer we had our Dads project, in which we invited Chinese families to contribute photos representing fatherhood and exhibited them alongside photos of Swedish dads at People's Square metro station.

In 2018, we will prioritize film and e-commerce in Shanghai. We will celebrate the world-renowned Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's 100-year anniversary by bringing a number of his films to the Shanghai International Film Festival as well as a few onstage performances and an exhibition in his honor. In the area of trade, we will continue to promote Swedish brands online and help expand their e-market in China.

I would like to see further development of some trends that have already started to appear in Shanghai. One is low-carbon transportation. In Sweden, bicycling has been popular for years, especially in a big city like Stockholm. It is a healthy, economical and environment-friendly means of transport. I know Shanghainese men have a good reputation of sharing household responsibilities with their wives but I hope to see dads here being able to take longer paternity leave and spend more time with their children.

Axel Cruau, Consul General of France

 

Well, of course and first and foremost the election of our President Emmanuel Macron in April 2017. The French community in Shanghai as well as all French citizens worldwide took part in the vote. This election really meant a lot for France which is now in a new era, an era of reform and dynamism.

France means innovation and creativity. Thanks to the community of innovative businesses in Shanghai, the French Tech Hub, France was the only foreign country to organize a national pavilion during the CES Asia.

Another intense moment was the 2017 edition of the Franco-Chinese Month of Environment in Shanghai. Among all the meetings, I was especially moved by the conversation between Jean Nouvel and Tan Dun.

This month was important, as France and China played a key role in the success of the COP21 and have special responsibility to fight climate change. Very recently, at the One Planet summit hosted in Paris on December 12, 2017, we discussed concrete ways to implement the 2015 Paris agreement.

In Shanghai, on the innovation side, we are looking forward to a new successful edition of the CES Asia that I was just mentioning. On the cultural side, we will have the Festival Croisements. 2018 will also be the China-EU Tourism Year, an opportunity for the Chinese public to discover France's hidden gems.

During the meeting organized by the mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong, with the consuls general, several of them pointed out their wish for a fast and open internet, to help innovation flourish.

On another level, in 2018, and more broadly in the run up to Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, I would like to see more French-Chinese sports events in Shanghai.

Graeme Meehan, Consul General of Australia

 

The highlight of 2017 was the celebration of the 45th anniversary of China-Australia diplomatic relations. Shanghai hosted the historic Australian Football League match between the Port Adelaide and Gold Coast Suns teams. We also welcomed over 20 Australian performing arts groups to the 19th China Shanghai International Arts Festival, including Australia's premier contemporary dance company, Sydney Dance Company. There were many events in 2017 that demonstrated the strong bilateral trade, investment and people-to-people links between Australia and Shanghai.

The Australian Consulate General in Shanghai will continue to build and strengthen bilateral ties between Australia and Shanghai in 2018. Under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, 93 percent of Australian exports will enter China at zero tariff by January of 2019, and in 2018 we will work with local governments and businesses in Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta region to promote this agreement.

In May, the Port Adelaide and Gold Coast Suns teams will return to Shanghai to play another game. We expect Australia Week in China (AWIC) to return in June. AWIC in 2016 was the largest-ever trade delegation to leave Australia, including over 1,000 company representatives, the Prime Minister, and several ministers. We will have new Australian scholars studying at Shanghai universities and undertaking internships at businesses as part of the New Colombo Plan. The continued shift toward innovation-driven development, for Australian and Chinese companies, includes support for start-up incubators and the development of additional policies to support industry and business in Shanghai. Incorporating technology developments in everyday lives will help Shanghai residents enjoy a prosperous society.

Therese Healy, Consul General of Ireland

 

2017 was a very good year for Shanghai. The economy continues to grow in a very sustained and robust way. Shanghai continues to build upon its reputation as an international city full of energy, culture and creativity. For me, I can't point to a single event or activity as the most impressive element this year - rather is a series of initiatives which have combined to make Shanghai an even lovelier and more dynamic place in which to live. I have appreciated the work the government has done in 2017 to beautify the parks, further control the traffic and redevelop many parts of Pudong New Area near the river, which will be a rich resource for residents in Shanghai.

In 2018, our main focus will be reaching out to people across Shanghai and eastern China to give as many people as possible more insights into Ireland. The legendary Riverdance is coming this month to Shanghai! We will be holding a St. Patrick's Day parade and outdoor concert on March 10, and a host of other cultural activities throughout that week. We also will be celebrating in June James Joyce's famous Ulysses.

Continued focus by the Shanghai municipal government on community healthcare. As in Ireland, it's clear more and more, Shanghai is implementing policies to improve the lives of the elderly. I believe more attention on vulnerable sections of community, such as those with physical or mental disabilities will be very valuable.

When I think of Ireland's warm and close friendship with China, it brings to mind the Chinese saying: Only when the years grow cold do we see that the pine and cypress are the last to fade; only when we get into trouble do we know who our genuine friends are. The Chinese-Irish friendship is enduring, mutually supportive and built on very solid foundations.

Bojan Skoda (right), Consul General of Slovenia

 

Shanghai is what it is because of specific history. It is the city with European soul and Chinese heart. And this is absolutely the best winning combination in the world. Europeans bring here a European charm, lifestyle and culture, which are mixing with Chinese culture. Most importantly, entrepreneur spirit is very successful in Shanghai.

According to our business representatives in Shanghai, there are significant steps that make China more and more open up, and Shanghai is leading this process. Business climate is improving and more cooperation opportunities are created.

China's Belt and Road initiative is a fantastic idea looking forward to the world without borders, ideas, innovation, culture, movement of people and business. Handling it very tenderly by connecting nations, business and people through the Belt and Road initiative deserves a Nobel Prize.

For me the best parts of the city are Shanghai lifestyle and the way Shanghainese look at the world. They are probably one of the happiest people in the world. They are happy with improvement of life, standard, environment and the role they are playing in the world stage. It is amazing how successfully Shanghai serves millions of people every day.

There are many good wishes I would express to people living Shanghai in 2018. I think that they deserve better life, education, traveling and exchange with other countries. These wishes also apply to people in other cities in the world. For me personally, there is one thing I will put on the first place: save old Shanghai.

Shanghai is a relatively clean city which is very good. But it still faces challenges of environment pollution. I hope the municipal government will continue doing a good job in solving the issue.

Loh Tuck Wai, Consul General of Singapore

 

In 2017, we saw Shanghai evolve quickly as a city as it sought to inject even more openness and innovative spirit into its economy. Highlights included the successful test flight of COMAC's C919, the rapid development of new technology such as Artificial Intelligence, and the automation of Yangshan Deep Water Port. They all showcase how important Shanghai continues to be in China's "New Era" economy.

2017 was a fruitful year between Singapore and China. Key highlights included Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit to China in September, where he met with key central leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

For 2018, we hope to apply the positive momentum in bilateral relations with Shanghai. There are already existing areas of good cooperation like in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, financial services and human resource and talent development. Both sides can foster closer cooperation in financial innovation, yuan internationalization, smart city and urban management. There will be more cooperation opportunities if Shanghai becomes China's first Free Trade Port as Singapore has been a Free Trade Port for many years.

Having lived in other Chinese cities previously, I find Shanghai one of the most livable cities in China. There will be the usual problems that come with a modern metropolis, like traffic congestion and pollution. But I am sure the Shanghai government is working hard to make tangible improvements in these areas. The good news is that in my past one and half years living in this city, I have already seen significant improvements.



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