Shenzhen, Belgium planning to boost ties

Updated: 2013-06-28 08:16

By Fu Jing in Brussels (China Daily)

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Shenzhen, a Chinese high-tech hub, and Belgium have shown growing interest to use each other as gateways to the Chinese and European markets amid slackening Sino-European business exchanges this year.

The two sides have agreed to boost cooperation at a maiden overseas high-tech fair, which was organized by the Shenzhen municipality in Brussels on Wednesday.

About 100 companies from Shenzhen and Belgium attended the event, which was a prelude to the annual China High-Tech Fair scheduled for November.

"We strongly believe that the marriage of cutting-edge Belgian and Chinese technologies will help to upgrade the economic structures of both countries," Chen Biao, vice-mayor of Shenzhen municipality, said on Thursday.

Chen added that the average output per square kilometer of Shenzhen has surpassed $100 million and that the municipality has become one of the global top 30 cities in terms of economic scale due to its high-tech and trade strength.

Liao Liqiang, the Chinese ambassador to Belgium, said that the European country is a "scientific titan, which is famous globally in fields such as micro-electronics, environmental sciences, new energy and many other areas."

"Belgium is also open to technology transfers, which China has benefited from since the beginning of our opening-up policy. And we are determined to carry on this momentum," added Liao.

Liao said that a recent example of cooperation is the use of Belgian pest and disease control technology by potato farmers in Sichuan, Chongqing, and other regions, which has greatly improved harvests.

Michel Malherbe, the future Belgian ambassador to China, said that Shenzhen is an easy access point to the Chinese market, while Brussels enjoys the benefits of being the base of the European Union.

"The choices of Shenzhen and Brussels for investors are natural," said Malherbe, who will officially take his job in Beijing in August.

David Laurier, chief executive officer of environmental solutions provider AppliTek, which is based in Belgium, said that it's a challenge for China to create a balance between human well-being and economic development and that the new measures taken by Chinese authorities to curb pollution will require new technologies to be implemented locally.

"That creates opportunities for Western companies that want to support and help China in fulfilling the demand for air pollution control systems," said Laurier.

And due to Shenzhen's high-tech strengths, businessmen in the city are also eager to explore the European market.

Zou Hong, general manager assistant of Shenzhen-based Jason Digital Technology Co Ltd, is one of them.

Zou said that she wants to find European partners to launch digital meter-reading services in the European market.

"Our solutions offer the possibility of reading meters online, instead of visiting door by door and we plan to find cooperation partners in Europe," said Zou.

The Shenzhen delegation's visit was only one of the Sino-European business exchanges happening in the Western European country.

On Sunday and Monday, the Beijing-based China Entrepreneur Club organized events, which allowed 32 leading private businessmen to explore investment opportunities in Belgium.

However, observers said that business exchanges between China and Europe were lackluster during the first half of the year due to China's economic slowdown and Europe's recession.

"Compared with last year, the number of delegations we received from China has decreased 30 percent this year," said Liang Weidong, the manager of a tourism company specializing in arranging Chinese business tours of Europe. "And some of our smaller peers in Belgium saw no business at all."