Chinese cities attend IUC start-up workshop in Beijing

Now in its second year, the IUC programme welcomed the second group of Chinese cities selected to work with European counterparts to enhance sustainable development. The five Chinese cities selected to take part in the second round of pairings are: Haikou (Hainan province), Kunming (Yunnan province), Liuzhou (Guangxi province), Yantai (Shandong province) and Weinan (Shaanxi province). Around 35 representatives attended the meeting, including those from last year’s selected cities: Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Longyan, Changchun and Shantou.

The IUC Asia team, in cooperation with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), held a start-up workshop for the Chinese cities in Beijing on 24 April. The purpose of the workshop was to brief the cities on the background and methodology of the IUC programme to help them better participate in upcoming activities and achieve concrete cooperation results.“The IUC programme has great strategic importance, as the European Union usually does not have many chances to work with cities, especially with Chinese cities,” Ms. Natividad Lorenzo, Programme Manager of the EU Delegation to China, explained in her opening remarks. “This workshop offers a unique opportunity for the Chinese pilot cities to learn more about the IUC programme, and for our team to listen to the interests and concerns from cities. This will help us to overcome possible obstacles in supporting each other.”

Mr. PENG Shicheng, Division Director from the NDRC Regional Economy Department, delivered a speech at the event. Recognising the IUC programme as an important platform for EU-China cooperation on sustainable urban development, Mr. PENG encouraged Chinese pilot cities to grasp the opportunity to draw upon the experiences of their European counterparts. He also pointed out the importance of a long-term mechanisms to foster city-level cooperation in areas including social and economic development, people to people exchanges, and trade and investment.

Mr. Pablo Gándara and Dr. Steven Shi, two experts within the IUC Asia team, briefed the audience on the background of the IUC programme, the potential for cooperation with the EU pilot cities, suggested cooperation areas and projects, and the methodology for building Local Action Plans that set out measures to be achieved. The alignment between cities’ interests and the Sustainable Development Goals of the New Urban Agenda was also stressed. Last but not the least, the importance of a smooth coordination and communication mechanism within the pilot city is highlighted as the basis for successful implementation of the project.

Zhengzhou and Chongqing, pilot cities from 2017, shared their experiences at the event. After a series of visits, workshops and work meetings held by the IUC Asia team last year, the two cities managed to find concrete projects to work on, most of which are progressing well, including connectivity projects under the “Belt and Road” initiative, and others touching on topics including smart cities, port, education and training, health care, etc.

Each of the Chinese cities joining the programme this year shared their thoughts regarding the IUC programme, especially the cooperation areas of interest and the support they expect from the IUC Asia team. Ecological protection, green technologies, international education and vocational training, smart cities, advanced manufacturing, culture and tourism were the main areas mentioned by the cities.

In the coming weeks and months, the IUC Asia team will work closely with pilot cities from both the EU and China to establish specific cooperation fields and to prepare for the EU delegation’s first mission to China this year. The mission, due to take place in mid-July, will be part of Commissioner Creţu’s planned agenda in China.  

The EU delegation, comprised of EU city representatives and relevant institutions, will participate at the XIII EU-China High-level Dialogue on Regional and Urban Policy Cooperation in Zhengzhou, Henan province, and will visit several Chinese pilot cities for field visits and work meetings, and to discuss cooperation possibilities.

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