Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Beijing
Source : Amsterdam Inbusiness Amsterdam Metropolitan Area
Character, formal status, start and duration of the partnership
The first relation between the cities dates back to 1985. Some years later, in 1994 a formal agreement was signed, although at that time no concrete projects were available. Instead, the collaboration was initially based on a regular exchange of delegations in order to set the foundations of a shared collaboration.
The economic promotion of the partnership is not explicitly foreseen under the agreement, as it depends basically on the current ongoing program. For an example, projects run from private companies, are normally financed through sponsored contracts. In any case, financing has never been a problem since sufficient funds are regularly allocated.
Main topics addressed and activities undertaken within the partnership
Water management, architectural heritage protection, finance, tourism, energy saving and cultural exchange are some of the topics addressed in the past activities.
The tourism industry is now seen as the new booming market and year after year is dramatically increasing. The involvement of the Dutch social insurance colossus Aegon and ING, ensures the presence of the financial sphere within the Amsterdam – Beijing axis. In the other direction Huawei, the largest networking and telecommunications equipment supplier in the People’s Republic of China, seat its Benelux headquarters and its global financial holding business in Amsterdam.
University of Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam and InHolland University, are always highly involved in all fields of study. Local authorities, the international bureau or external organizations are also involved depending on the project.
Key achievements within the partnership
In 2005 the city of Amsterdam organized a festival where Chinese culture and tradition were presented to the citizens.
In 2008 a third shipping line for the flow of the goods between the two partner cities has been opened. During the same year a delegation made up of all the principal actors related to the governmental, financial, touristic and research fields visited the cities of Beijing and Shanghai in order to underpin the existing links. In this occasion was shown how the exchange of students and the tourism market could be intensified in the future.
Future expectations and expected development of the partnership
So far the partnership has always worked in a friendly and collaborative atmosphere. Nevertheless there is space for an improvement in communication. Current wishes are to overcome the issues related to this aspect.
Key obstacles and weaknesses in the partnership
The differences in the bureaucratic organization of the Chinese system and in the size of the cities are sometimes a problem. Another obstacle is the language. Although English and Chinese speakers are available in the partner’s offices, communication between experts can be hindered since they often do not have a sufficient preparation on languages. This is also the reason why throughout the stages of the project development there are often misunderstandings from both sides.
Needs and wishes for support to improve the partnership
The Amsterdam authority would like to see a deeper involvement of the European Union in the intercultural partnerships between cities. Although the financing is not a problem for the Netherlands’ capital, there exists a lack of knowledge and awareness on exchange activities at a European and national institutional level.
This case study belongs to the file « Europe - China Exchange Platform Survey »