The Center for Asia Business welcomed a high-level political delegation from the Chinese city of Chengdu to Winterthur to promote mutual understanding and discuss opportunities for cooperation.
A chinese delegation headed by Hao Kangli, Vice-President of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference of Chengdu, visited Winterthur to exchange information between the two cities concerning their situation, development trajectories, and challenges and to identify potential areas of cooperation.
Chengdu – A livable and dynamic city in Southwest China
Chengdu, best known outside China for being the home of the giant panda, is in fact a thriving city with a long history and a strong economic, cultural, and culinary identity. The city at the starting point to the Southern Silk Road has become a major gateway to Western China. It boasts one of China’s fastest growing retail markets, is number three nationally in luxury sales, and has just been promoted into the ranks of China’s first tier cities. The fact that last year Switzerland established only its third Consulate General in the PR China there (after Shanghai and Guangzhou) is testament to its growing relevance also for Switzerland and its potential for Swiss businesses.
Friendly negotiations on closer cooperation
The visit took place within the larger context of a positive bilateral dynamic between Switzerland and China. This is particularly significant in the light of China’s Belt and Road Initiative to reconnect East and West. Against this background, mutual understanding and closer ties may not only be welcome but necessary.
The delegation met with the Mayor of Winterthur, Michael Künzle, who introduced his guests to the history, current developments, and success story of Winterthur as an industrial, cultural, and education hub. His presentation was reciprocated by an introduction to Chengdu’s developments, achievements, and challenges, followed by a discussion. Similar to Winterthur, Chengdu is also on a path of modernization and in need of effective solutions for a myriad of socio-economic challenges. Also, like Winterthur, Chengdu is a hub for culture and education in the region, with universities and science parks working together with businesses towards innovation and economic progress. It was, therefore, agreed to evaluate the possibility of further exchanges to foster the friendship between Chengdu and Winterthur.
Education and public management opportunities
After a brief tour of Winterthur’s old town, the delegation was also received at the ZHAW School of Management and Law (SML), where presentations on the SML, applied education and research, public management, and innovation were met with great interest. Particularly aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship were discussed in detail. Young entrepreneurs are a growing phenomenon in China. In this context, an issue of concern seems to be how best to integrate venture capital towards realizing business ventures. Another issue raised during the meeting was e-governance. Digitalization, after all, does not stop at the Chinese government, so respective solutions need to be found, here as well as there.
The discussions on where and how to learn from each other, both from an educational as well as from a political or public management point of view, were thus highly engaging, and the feedback on both sides was more than positive. The Center for Asia Business will continue discussions with our colleagues, both in China and in Switzerland.
Contact: Michael Settelen, Center for Asia Business