Bycirklen (Denmark) and Wuxi (Jiangsu)
Source : International Office City of Ballerup
Character, formal status, start and duration of the partnership
In 2007, the cities of Ballerup, Egedal and Frederikssund and Wuxi signed a Partnership Agreement and thus setting off the beginnings of a long-lasting relationship involving a wide range of inclusive topics. The involvement of citizens in the strategy planning stage, strongly characterizes the nature of the collaboration which had been mainly aimed to create a self-sustained flow of activities.
Main topics addressed and activities undertaken under the partnership
The relationship mostly focuses on the themes of cooperation between local authorities and public services, education, development and the promotion of business bonds, cultural exchange through the organization of art-related events. A fair knowledge exchange in all the fields, including also public health and housing system, is the key strategy for assuring a good outcome of the partnership.
Key achievements within the partnership
Regular meeting and events are undertaken to maintain the collaborative atmosphere between the cities. Several of these initiatives aim to involve the entire social stratum beginning with school children, who are given the opportunity to do exchanges in the city of Wuxi. Up to 12 schools and 8 educational institutions are taking active part in this initiative and have produced, as a result, common projects, which have normally included the cooperation aspects between education and engaging young people. Such projects have focused mainly on urbanization with expert panel discussions in urban planning and sustainable housing projects.
City representatives also meet periodically but, as agreed under the partnership, their activities are limited in order to encourage instead participation from schools, associations and other specific non-governmental groups.
Every year an evaluation on the partnership is conducted. The most important results are than distributed in newspapers, libraries and on the municipality webpage.
Future expectations and expected development of the partnership
The partnership has been working very well with groups of students and teachers easily negotiating methods to facilitate collaboration between each other. One of the principal acknowledgements of the agreement was the inherent differences between both cities. Thus, the main expectation from future cooperation is to continue exploration of similarities and differences between the Chinese and European societies.
Key obstacles and weaknesses in the partnership
Regardless of a few obstacles, the collaboration between the three municipalities and Wuxi has been relatively smooth. In the beginning, the immense size of the Chinese city often delayed communication between people and a rapid development of activities. At a practical level, the issue that people from the cities often face is the difficulty to speak with the same contact person, even within the same organization, and thus making the decision process harder to develop and practical activities more complicated to implement. The complexity of the local administration offices represents an issue also for the Chinese partners themselves who cannot easily follow ongoing partnership activities because of the lack or absence of task-related tracking system.
The proposition of new projects often represents a difficult stage, since it is normally delegated to the Danish cities which would instead like to see more pro active participation from the Chinese side.
This case study belongs to the file « Europe - China Exchange Platform Survey »