Basel (Switzerland) and Shanghai

Source : External Relations and location Mayor Cabinet - Kantons Basel-Stadt


Character, formal status, start and duration of the partnership

The partnership between Basel and Shanghai officially began in November 2007, when a Memorandum of understanding between the cities was signed. In fact, the first initiative came two years before from the city of Shanghai on the occasion of a meeting between the Chinese administrators and a Swiss delegation. During the next two evaluation years, the city of Basel carried forth a case-study to involve both the Government of the Canton of Basel-Stadt and Swiss private companies. Therefore, in 2007, when an official agreement was signed, a clear activity plan had already been established.

The partnership is supported not only by the Government of the Canton of Basel-Stadt, which provides major source of financing, but also by external organization and companies, such as the Chamber of Commerce.

Main topics addressed and activities undertaken within the partnership

Private engagement is strongly represented in the partnership, with a range of other sectors secondarily addressed. Economic knowledge and Life Science are common areas of interest in both the private and the public sector. The latter is specifically related to the sphere of health care institutions and university activities. The cultural exchange is undertaken under a rich agenda of events which includes music, theatre and traditions.

Key achievements within the partnership

Basel is currently organizing a festival in the city, which from August to October 2010 will celebrate Chinese culture. On the following year, the Museum of Basel will host an exhibition highlighting Chinese history and culture. The continued collaboration with other cultural associations can also assure a celebration event for the Chinese New Year.

Business trips, administration meetings and small cooperation programs are continually organised throughout the partnership. The Manager Exchange Program is a successful experience which connects business sectors and creates collaboration opportunities. This program is mostly run and supported by private companies.

Future expectations and expected development of the partnership

Although the partnership is still quite young, the relationship between the cities has already proven to be quite successful. The presence of a permanent reference person in Basel and another in Shanghai has been crucial in maintaining a productive and clear communication path.

At the moment, the Expo in Shanghai, where the city of Basel will feature its own pavilion, represents the most important impending event. The establishment of institutes is the next step to consolidate the relationship.

Key obstacles and weaknesses in the partnership

In general the partnership does not present any obstacle. A secondary issue is the time required in setting up the documentation for the preparation stage of each project.

Needs and wishes for support to improve the partnership

An aspect that the city will try to improve in future, is the narrowly-defined scope undertaken by some Swiss partnership companies and organizations which have focused on local issues. The administration of Basel would like to see a more global, and holistic approach by the stakeholders which focuses instead their interests on local level issues. They now have the opportunity to easily broad their market through the Asian continent thanks to the influential contacts of the local government, but mostly of them do not take advantage from the situation.

City of Basel

Basel is Switzerland’s third most populous city with nearly 170,000 inhabitants. The Basel area is Switzerland’s second important business centre, and enjoys the country’s fastest rate of economic growth. The city has developed into Switzerland’s second most-important financial and insurance centre, after Zurich. Also research and education play an important role in Basel’s wealth. Basel does not only engage in partnerships with other wealthy cities. It is also committed to development projects in poorer countries. Every year, the city gives 1,65 million Swiss Francs to development projects, both abroad and within Switzerland. The money is intended to improve the conditions for people in the poorest countries of the world and in the poorest regions in Switzerland.

Basel, Zurich and Geneva are taking part at the Shanghai Expo with a joint pavilion in the Urban Best Practices Area site.

City of Shanghai

Shanghai is the most populated city in China with about 19 millions inhabitants. Together with Chongqing, Beijing and Tianjin, Shanghai is one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of the People’s Republic of China - with an equal status to a province - divided into 17 districts and one county. Shanghai sits on the Yangtze River Delta and during the 19[h]th century the favorable location made of the city a principal fishing and textile hub. After 1990, the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping resulted in intense re-development and financing in Shanghai and in 2005 the city became the world’s largest cargo port. Shanghai is the cultural and economic center of East Asia and it is popularly seen as the birthplace of everything considered modern in China. The city is a tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as the Bund and City God Temple, and its modern and ever-expanding Pudong skyline including the Oriental Pearl Tower.


This case study belongs to the file « Europe - China Exchange Platform Survey »

To go further