As part of our series about 50 years of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium, in this article we highlight another great example of successful partnerships between Chinese and Belgian cities or regions: the partnership between the Belgian Province of Flemish Brabant and the Chinese metropolis of Chengdu, set up in 2011.
Flemish Brabant harbours a unique concentration of world-leading knowledge institutions and innovative companies. Knowledge city par excellence Leuven is home to a world class university and several university colleges, the famous university hospital, numerous spin-offs and the renowned imec research centre. Together, they boost innovation and economic activity in Flemish Brabant and Flanders. The advanced knowledge they produce is applied in spearhead sectors such as health, food, logistics, sustainable technologies and the creative sector. These sectors have developed into the five smart hubs of Flemish Brabant.
But there is more: the central location, the airport and numerous logistic companies and activities have turned Flemish Brabant into a logistic hub for Flanders and Europe. Finally, there is the vast service sector and the vicinity of Brussels capital, with its universities and the European institutions.
The Province of Flemish Brabant is forming close ties with regions all over the world that complement and strengthen its assets (also called “focus regions”). The vibrant city of Chengdu is one of those focus regions.
Chengdu is the capital city of southwestern China’s Sichuan province and more importantly, it is a bustling city for start-ups and innovators with national importance. On May 27th, 2011, the twinning relationship between Chengdu and the province of Flemish Brabant was initiated. This memorandum heralded a new era of cooperation between these two prosperous and innovative regions. By emphasizing open communication and exchange, swift mutual project development was made possible.
The province of Flemish-Brabant cooperates with Chengdu in five areas: (1) foreign investment, (2) the five clusters of Smart Hub Flemish Brabant (health, logistics, food, cleantech & creativity), (3) people-to-people exchange (education, culture etc.), (4) conservation of intangible heritage and (5) involving local municipalities in this international partnership.
On June 3rd, 2019, a new memorandum on the establishment of international friendly communities was signed between Chengdu High-Tech Zone, Tianfu Life Science Park, Chengdu Bio Town and Smart Hub Flemish Brabant. “It was a premiere for Asia. We have not signed a similar memorandum with other high-tech development zones in China before,” explains Smart Hub Manager International Cooperation Geert Regelbrugge.
“Smart Hub Flemish Brabant highlights the talents of companies, institutions and organisations in the province of Flemish Brabant,” remarks Geert Regelbrugge. Smart Hub offers a platform for international cooperation for different tech clusters, focusing on the major strengths of Flemish Brabant. More information can be found at https://www.smarthubvlaamsbrabant.be/international/.
“In terms of the further cooperation with Chengdu, the most important thing for now (as the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to disturb normal trade relations between Europe and China) is to ensure that the current collaboration projects keep going strong and the constant open communication runs smoothly. During this current worldwide COVID-challenge, Chengdu has proven to be an outstanding communication partner,” noted Regelbrugge.
Please contact the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) in case you need more information.