2018 in consular review: achievements and plans

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/27 18:43:41

Global Times asks Shanghai consuls general about their accomplishments over the past 12 months and what they hope for the future. Here are the final eight.

Axel Cruau, Consul General of France in Shanghai Photos: Courtesy of the interviewees

Shanghai has always been - and will always be - a pioneer of opening up China. Once again, in 2018 it has shown that openness, innovation, inclusiveness and wisdom are its distinctive characteristics. For instance, during the WAIC in September and during Art Week in November, Shanghai showed its embrace of the world and forward thinking.

At the diplomatic level, 2018 started well with the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, followed by the visit of our Prime Minister. Already, concrete results can be seen from these visits, like the arrival of French beef on the Chinese market. More high-level visits in 2019 will bring more concrete results.

Many Shanghainese football fans lived the thrills of the competition along with French fans in the supporters' pavilions during the World Cup. Blue, the color of the French team as well as of Europe, was also seen in Shanghai on May 9, Europe Day, when Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower was illuminated.

The year 2019 will be exciting. Cooperation between Centre Pompidou and the West Bund will bear fruit, the 10th "Fête de la musique" in China will take place, the second campus of the French Lycée will open, as well as more patisseries and restaurants.

On the innovation side, our community of innovative businesses - French Tech - shall move forward. We also invite more Chinese tourists to visit France and discover its time-honored traditions of street fairs, performing arts and a warm welcome.

As for our hopes for 2019, no one has better formulated them than Chinese President Xi Jinping in his important speeches: "It is important for all countries to open wider and expand the space for mutually beneficial cooperation. Openness brings progress while seclusion leads to backwardness."

Siti Nugraha Mauludiah, Consul General of Indonesia in Shanghai

2018 was my second full year in Shanghai as Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia, which covers Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces. I am grateful to colleagues in Foreign Affairs Offices in respective cities who have been assisting me in fulfilling my duties. The year 2018 was a milestone for me because there were two pivotal events that I would like to particularly highlight.

First, a series of trade, tourism investment, events taking places at various strategic locations centered in the Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower during the second Indonesian Week. It was about promoting Indonesian products as well as introducing our rich cultural heritage to those who live in Shanghai as well as tourists visiting Shanghai, to encourage them to buy Indonesian product and visit Indonesia. Chinese tourists have dominated foreign tourism to Indonesia, a country consisting of 17,500 islands.

Secondly, at the China International Import Expo (CIIE), Indonesia was one of the 12 honor countries. President Joko Widodo appointed Coordinating Minister of Maritime Luhut B. Panjaitan as the country's special envoy, accompanied by our Minister of Trade to attend the expo. A total of 63 Indonesian companies participated, showcasing premium food and beverage and other products and services of Indonesia. During the sidelines of CIIE, we co-hosted the Indonesia-China Business Forum and business matching,  successfully attracting 139 Chinese companies and 138 participants from 63 Indonesian companies. The event also witnessed a number of signings of MOU.

My hope for 2019 would be to enhance more people-to-people contacts as well as building more growth in trade, tourism, investment utilizing digital economy and e-commerce between Indonesia and China.

Eyal Propper, Consul General of Israel in Shanghai

2018 was a prosperous year in Sino-Israel relations. In October, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan paid the highest-level visit to Israel in the last 18 years, accompanied by a large delegation of two ministers and 12 deputy ministers. Eight Sino-Israel MOUs were signed during this visit. The main one is the new next three-year action plan for bilateral innovation cooperation.

Mayor of Shanghai Ying Yong visited Israel in June by the invitation of the Mayor of Haifa, which is a Sister City of Shanghai. I had the pleasure to accompany the mayor and took part in this successful trip with the purpose of building new cooperation in the field of science and technology between our two countries.

After these two important visits, Israel took part in the most important event in Shanghai this year: the first China International Import Expo (CIIE). Honorable guest Ofir Akunis, Minister of Science and Technology of Israel, attended CIIE with several Israeli companies and signed an MOU with Mayor Ying.

In 2018, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. The consulate launched a gift design competition in March. Two students from Suzhou University won the competition and were awarded free trips to Israel in December. We were glad to see that they enjoyed the unique scenery and pleasant weather of Israel. We would like to see more Chinese tourists visit Israel and enjoy our great atmosphere.

For me personally, 2018 was fruitful and meaningful. In order to strengthen ties with local governments, companies and people, I visited numerous cities in my jurisdiction in the Yangtze River Delta region.

I wish you all the happiness of the holiday season with friendship and gratitude.


Michele Cecchi, Consul General of Italy in Shanghai

I have been in Shanghai since last August. It is a great honor to serve as Consul General of Italy in this extraordinary, innovative and forward looking city.

The relations between Italy and China, and in particular Shanghai, pulse at the same pace and intensity, taking also advantage of the establishment, within our Ministry for Economic Development, of a special Task Force for China, chaired by Vice Minister Geraci. This process is witnessed by the frequency of official visits: since August, 9 visits of members of the Italian government took place in Shanghai.

In 2018, outstanding Italian events took place: "Salone del Mobile. Milano Shanghai," the exhibition "Leonardo da Vinci and the Italian Masters of Renaissance," and many others from music to ballet and cinema.

I seize this opportunity to express my appreciation for the commendable efforts of the Chinese authorities for the success of the China International Import Expo, where Italy was present with 200 companies, Vice Premier Di Maio gave a speech at the Forum on Trade and Innovation and important contracts were signed to foster Sino-Italian cooperation.

2018 marked a further increase of visa issued by our Consulate. The objective for 2019 is to provide Chinese citizens a swifter and more efficient service. Italy and China - although so different in size, population and geography - are linked by over two thousand years of exchanges in goods and ideas. People-to-people interaction is the key driver for further strengthening our relations.

My warmest greetings for a prosperous New Year go to all the Global Times' readers, together with the wish for our two countries to consolidate the new Silk Road of knowledge, mutual understanding and respect.

Sean Stein, Consul General of the US in Shanghai

2018 was a pivotal year in US-China relations. Even with all of its ups and downs, I remain optimistic about where our relationship is headed. US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping's successful meeting at the G20 Summit in Argentina helped put our relationship on a positive trajectory heading into 2019 and underscored the progress our nations can achieve when we work together. 

One of the things that has impressed me the most over the past year is the beauty, vitality and diversity of East China. I have admired the depth and strength of the bonds created by the millions of tourists, hundreds of thousands of students and vast numbers of business and government delegations traveling between our two countries. I'm proud of the many partnerships, such as those in the environmental and medical fields, which have helped people in both countries enjoy a healthier environment and longer, more productive lives. These are just a few of the many examples where I see a strong bilateral relationship and which make me optimistic about the future. There is much more we can do, such as cooperating to prevent the abuse of synthetic opioids, strengthening subnational ties and cracking down on intellectual property abuse.

In 2019, we will commemorate the 40th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the US and China. I hope that we remember that in a relationship as large and consequential as ours, challenges are inevitable - and that just as there have been periods of tension and stress, there have been far longer periods of progress and cooperation.

As America and China engage in a spirit of openness and friendship, our focus must be to continue building a relationship grounded in fairness and reciprocity, so that the next 40 years will be as peaceful and prosperous as the last.

Mpho Anna Hlahla, Consul General of South Africa in Shanghai

I arrived in Shanghai in April of 2018. It is now quite different from the one I visited almost two decades ago. Shanghai has become a world-class city that showcases modern urban planning and management. Its public transport system, public facilities, greening and beautification efforts and the overall vibe of the city rival that of many other well-known cities around the world. I look forward to learning more about this metropolis and to take some of these learnings back to my country.

Shanghai has grown in popularity as a destination of choice for South Africans. I have welcomed a number of delegations visiting the city for a variety of reasons, including fact-finding, trade and investment as well as business and leisure. Shanghai is also home to a community of South Africans who are in the city to study or work.

2018 marked the 20th year of formal diplomatic ties between South Africa and China. It has also been the year in which both countries' presidents met twice, first in July at the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg and in October in Beijing at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Relations between the two countries have grown leaps and bounds over the years and I look forward to cementing this further through growing economic ties and people-to-people relations.

For 2019, we will continue to work with Shanghainese authorities, entrepreneurs and tour companies to promote South Africa, particularly with regard to trade and investment opportunities and tourism. We plan to hold a South African tourism promotional event early next year, where we will publicize our recently introduced simplified visa requirements for Chinese travelers to South Africa.

Overall, my wish for 2019 is to see the strengthening of multilateralism as well as global peace and prosperity.

Loh Tuck Wai, Consul General of Singapore in Shanghai

2018 was an exciting year for Shanghai. There were plenty of initiatives introduced to cement Shanghai's position at the forefront of China's development, especially China's reform and opening-up. Not only was Shanghai selected as the host of the inaugural China International Import Expo (CIIE), it also announced 100 measures to streamline the business environment, the first Tesla factory outside the US will be located in Shanghai and Shanghai had been designated by Chinese President Xi Jinping to lead the integration of the Yangtze River Delta region. I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to the Shanghai municipal government for a fruitful year.

2018  had also been a productive year for Singapore-China relations with frequent exchanges at the highest-level. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Beijing, Shanghai and Hainan in conjunction with the Bo'ao Forum for Asia in April 2018. Many top Chinese leaders also visited Singapore, including Premier Li Keqiang, Vice President Wang Qishan and Vice Premier Han Zheng.

Vice Premier Han co-chaired his first Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation with Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Singapore is keen to further our relationship with Shanghai. Both cities have many similarities, such as our international and open nature, economic structure and status as transport and trade hubs in our respective regions.

During his visit to Shanghai, Prime Minister Lee and Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang had a good discussion on deepening Singapore-Shanghai relations. Both sides are looking forward to establishing an institutionalized joint cooperation framework in 2019, which would bring our relationship to the next level. I wish Shanghai and its residents the very best in 2019!

Kristin Iglum, Consul General of Norway in Shanghai

2018 has been a very active and good year for relations between China and Norway. The most important achievement was the state visit to China in October by Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway. This was Their Majesties' fourth visit to China and they were very impressed to see the developments in Shanghai since their last visit here 21 years ago.

"Sustainable oceans" was the overall topic for their Shanghai program, reflecting our long history in successfully working together within the maritime sector. We focused on important topics that we will continue working on next year with our Chinese partners, like green shipping, marine litter, renewable energy and sustainable solutions for the Arctic.

During the year we had many high-level visits both ways. We received three Norwegian ministers in Shanghai in the spring, highlighting topics like health-tech, research and academic cooperation and finance. In the fall, Shanghai's Deputy Party Secretary Yin Hong led a delegation to Oslo for a renewal of the agreement between the two sister cities. Our cultural cooperation also flourished, with the Norwegian National Ballet and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra performing in Shanghai in the winter.

This year has also seen contacts between our businesses and a very positive increase in imports of Norwegian seafood to China, something we know Chinese consumers appreciate very much. Here at the Norwegian Consulate, we look forward to the new year and to follow up on all the joint achievements made in 2018. On behalf of all my colleagues, I am very pleased to wish Global Times' readers a prosperous, healthy and happy 2019!



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