The ICBC, the largest bank in China, announced that it will continue to act as a matchmaker next year, bringing together Dutch and Chinese businesses and organisations. And as well as the two Amsterdam universities, two other cultural institutions from the city also signed agreements with partners in South Korea and China.

Led by the mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan, the delegation included representatives from businesses, cultural and educational institutions, and Dutch designers, paying a visit to two of Amsterdam’s twin cities: Seoul and Beijing. During the visit, the mayors of Amsterdam and Seoul officially renewed this relationship. In doing so, the cities will continue to exchange knowledge and manpower in the fields of electric transportation, water management, culture and e-Governance. In Beijing, Van der Laan had the opportunity to meet the city’s new mayor Mr Wang Anshun, and to reconvene with Party Chief and former mayor Guo Jinlong. 

Culture and design

Taking over the reins from Milan and London, Amsterdam was selected as ‘Guest City’ for this year’s Beijing Design Week. During this event, the New Institute, the Sandberg Institute and the Design Academy Eindhoven were invited to participate in the Design Biennial in the Chinese city Shenzhen in December 2013. Other activities during Beijing Design Week saw a considerable number of Dutch designers present work and exhibitions in prominent locations around Beijing – many in collaboration with local institutes and students. During the opening festivities, fashion designer Addy van den Krommenacker showed off his designs in China for the first time, while Alexander van Slobbe was invited to reprise his Peking Express exhibition in Beihai Park once Beijing Design Week draws to a close. Marcel Wanders acted as figurehead for the ‘Design Goes Dutch’ programming, in which he launched an exhibition in collaboration with Mels Crouwel and the Stedelijk Museum. Other Dutch creatives and organisations active around the city included the Sandberg Institute, the New Institute, SALON/, Marcel Kampman and VenhoevenCS architecture bureau. Florentijn Hofman’s giant ‘Rubber Duck’ outdoor sculpture notably captured the imagination of the general public.

Also in Beijing, the Conservatorium van Amsterdam (CvA) and the Netherlands Film Academy signed collaborative agreements with partner institutions. The CvA will work with its partner in Beijing to establish a jazz programme and one of the invitations extended to the Netherlands Film Academy is to organise a Dutch film festival in Beijing.

Education and research

In Seoul, the first-ever ‘Study & Work in Amsterdam’ seminar was organised, aiming to attract Korean students and young professionals. Organised by the Netherlands Education Support Office, the VU University Amsterdam and The Student Hotel, the seminar was visited by approximately 200 guests.

The University of Amsterdam and Tsingua University, one of the most prestigious institutions in China, opened a joint research centre in the field of logic. The VU University Amsterdam also signed a collaborative agreement with the Beijing University of Technology.

At the invitation of Aart Jacobi (the Netherlands’ ambassador to China), mayor Van der Laan and Aalt Dijkhuizen (the president and chairperson of Wageningen University and Research Centre) met with an alderperson from the Beijing Municipal Bureau for Agriculture. Dijkhuizen: “Due to the excellent relationship between mayor Van der Laan and his colleagues from Beijing, last year we signed an important collaborative contract worth at least €15 million, with the aim of improving food provisions in the city. It is fantastic that Van der Laan could attend this meeting, underlining the importance of the collaboration. This helps us yet further.”

Investment and trade

This was Van der Laan’s first visit to South Korea. For the occasion, the delegation took the opportunity to visit the headquarters of eight Korean companies active in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. They also hosted a trade dinner for representatives of approximately 100 companies.

In China, around 40 companies participated in an investment seminar targeted at businesses active in the ICT sector. The mayor also paid visits to a number of large-scale Chinese companies that have expressed interest in expanding their activities in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.

A continuation agreement was signed with the ICBC, through which the China Holland Business Summit will return in 2014, this time taking place in Beijing. The first edition was held in Amsterdam in 2012, during which 35 Chinese companies were paired with 35 potential trade partners in the Netherlands.