Beijing, Helsinki to link in green plan

Updated: 2012-09-21 07:52

By Fu Jing in Brussels (China Daily)

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Forum brings together mayors, city planners and companies

Helsinki has proposed broadening its sister city relationship with Beijing by entering into a green and smart urbanization agreement soon amid European and Chinese leaders' calls for finding new two-way investment and trade opportunities.

Pekka Sauri, deputy mayor of Helsinki, disclosed the proposal at a two-day side event of the China-EU summit on Thursday. The event was organized by the China Association of Mayors and EU Covenant of Mayors and attended by 50 mayors from Europe and China.

"We are preparing a smart-city development cooperation plan, and once it is ready, we are going to negotiate with Beijing," Sauri told China Daily.

Sauri said both sides have been involved in preparing the draft plan, which focuses on green urbanization opportunities for investors from both. "Helsinki definitely has a lot to learn from Beijing," Sauri said.

Chen Gang, deputy mayor of Beijing, said the Chinese capital will double its efforts to upgrade industrial structures and construct more green buildings and green transport.

In cooperation with European cities, Chen also said, "We should strengthen the protection and use of the ancient capital while speeding up ecological and environmental development."

China and the European Union decided to enter into urbanization cooperation in May when Vice-Premier Li Keqiang visited Brussels. They decided to launch the EU-China Mayor Forum under the bilateral urbanization partnership signed by Li and European leaders in May.

China has an urbanization rate of 51 percent and unfolding urbanization process has offered tremendous cooperation opportunities for Europe, which excels at green and smart urban development.

The forum brought the European and Chinese mayors, local decision-makers, city planners, companies and NGOs together to share insights on promoting a sustainable future for the cities.

"Both European and Chinese mayors have expressed their support for this forum to explore more potential in urbanization," said Cui Hengde, secretary-general of the China Association of Mayors.

Gerd Schwandner, mayor of Oldenburg, Germany, said he has visited China 60 to 70 times.

"First, we expect to deepen our strategic partnership with Xi'an and Tianjin, in such fields as renewable energies and agriculture," Schwandner said. "We also hope to establish the cooperation with other Chinese cities."

Looking for more transcontinental cooperation on that sustainable logistics project, Schwandner said: "The coastal city Qingdao is my first choice in China."

Anneli Hulthen, mayor and chairwoman of the Gothenburg city executive board, suggested there should be more communication between Gothenburg - the Swedish city famous for its industrial design and sustainable urban planning - and its sister city Shanghai.

"We learn from the Chinese delegations every time they come. I hope there will be more delegations from China visiting Gothenburg," said Hulthen.

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Liu Jia contributed to this story.

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