From 2-7 July, the IURC facilitated an inaugural post-COVID study visit of European delegates from Fuenlabrada, Lazio region, Region of Western Greece, Alentejo Region, and Krapina-Zagorje county to China. This mission intended to strengthen the ties and cooperative actions between European and Chinese cities and regions in the areas of sustainable agriculture, cultural tourism and digital economy. During the visit, the cities of Beijing, Zhengzhou, and Hangzhou showcased their innovative approaches to sustainable agriculture, digital economy, and cultural tourism. The study visits deepened the synergy between the European and Chinese cities and regions, paving the way for future cooperation and adding value to local projects towards sustainable development, socio-economic growth, and the rapidly advancing technological landscape.
Beijing: Post Olympic Urban Development, Agriculture and Digital Economy
Starting their journey in Beijing on July 3, the delegation explored the city´s practices on modern agriculture, digital economy, and urban regeneration as “Dual Olympic City”. Shougang Park, once an emblem of industrialisation, was renewal as the site for 2020 winter Olympic Games. The renewal of Shougang Park into an innovative business park showcased the potential of post-Olympic Games urban regeneration. Moreover, the delegation visit to the Pinggu Agricultural Technology Park highlighted the transformative power of innovation in traditional agricultural practices. A notable experience for the delegates was the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area (BDA), where the future on low-carbon transport was showcased via autonomous driving.
Zhengzhou: Innovations in Organic Agriculture, Sustainable Agri-Food Supply, and Tourism & Culture
From 4-5 July, the European delegates were introduced to the good practices in sustainable agri-food systems and vibrant cultural tourism in Zhengzhou. Exploring the expansive Wanbang International Agricultural Products Logistics City and the innovative approaches at the Henan Zhongyuan Organic Agriculture Institute, the delegation gained insights into the technological interventions in agricultural supply chains in Zhengzhou. Moreover, the cultural essence of Zhengzhou was presesnted through the “Unique Henan – Land of Dramas” and the Henan Museum, which encounters enriching dialogues on cultural preservation, heritage protection, and the potential of the creative industry between the European cities and region and Zhengzhou.
Hangzhou: E-commerce, Smart City, and Cultural Tourism
From 6-7, the European delegates visited Hangzhou, recognized as China’s digital heartland. It was a journey of the synergies in e-commerce, SME internationalization, and the digital trade ecosystem. Engaging sessions with Wuyou Media and the Global Cross-Border E-commerce Knowledge Service Center provided a comprehensive understanding of Hangzhou´s digital advancements in commerce and trade. Addressing cultural and tourism dimension to the exploration, the delegation visited the renowned China Tea Museum and the scenic expanse of West Lake.
The 5-day journey highlighted the importance of shared knowledge, common development goals, and intercultural exchange between the cities and region in Europe and China. The cooperation initiatives in the areas of urban development and agri-food systems formulated during this visit strengthened concrete cooperative relationship and presented the shared visions for the development pathways for the cities and regions in Europe and China.