Chongqing gets Dutch consulate
Updated: 2014-01-09 07:19
By Luo Wangshu and Tan Yingzi in Chongqing (China Daily)
Netherlands sees fast-developing western city playing a strategic role in economy
The Netherlands opened its consulate general in Chongqing on Wednesday, as the Western European nation aims to improve cooperation with China's western region.
"As the fourth consulate in China and the only one in the western region, the Netherlands consulate general in Chongqing will help Dutch companies invest in China's west and seek trade and investment partners," said Guido Tielman, the office's consul-general.
If Chinese companies are interested in advanced Dutch technology, the consulate is willing to help, Tielman added.
The consulate will enhance cultural and educational ties between China and the Netherlands, he added.
Tielman said the Netherlands established a consulate in Chongqing because the country sees the municipality as a fast-developing city with a strategic political role and double-digit economic growth.
In addition, Tielman said, the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe International Railway is an important incentive for the Netherlands to have a consulate in Chongqing, as the railway has great potential.
The freight railway connects Chongqing with six European countries, including Germany and Poland.
The Dutch consulate-general in Chongqing will serve Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces as well as Chongqing. The office eventually will be able to issue visas.
Since Chongqing became a municipality in 1997, it has become a hub for foreign countries setting up consulates in China.
Chongqing has consulates general from 10 countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada. Italy opened its consulate general there on Dec 30, and Mexico and Guyana are planning to set up their own consulates general soon.
Sergio Maffettone, the consul-general of the Italian consulate, said Chongqing and Italy have great economic fundamentals and a strong future, adding that Chongqing will be the hub for the Italian consulate as it reaches out to Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.
Many big Italian companies, such as Iveco, AnsaldoBreda and Finmeccanica, are in Chongqing.
Maffettone said he sees the Chongqing-Europe railway as an attractive way for Italian companies to set up trade and commercial links with their Chinese counterparts.
"It could sensibly change the current scenario on goods transportation, reducing the delivery times and thus setting itself up as a potential new, modern 'Silk Road', where we expect goods to travel both ways: from China to Italy and from Italy to China," he wrote in an e-mail to China Daily.
Chen Gaoshan, deputy director-general of the Chongqing Foreign Affairs Office, said Chongqing has a strategic role in China as the country pushes to develop its central and western regions.
"As the only municipality in the interior of China, Chongqing is the gate from the interior to the world," Chen said.
He also said that the city's industrial structure attracts foreign countries.
"The manufacturing industry in Chongqing is growing fast. One out of four computers in the world is made in Chongqing. The automobile and chemical engineering industries, which are main industries in Chongqing, also are seeking international cooperation," Chen said.
A total 6,000 expatriates live in Chongqing and about 2 million foreign tourists visited the city in 2013, Chen said, adding that the majority of expatriates are students and representatives from foreign companies.
Chen said the establishment of foreign consulates will make Chongqing more globalized, attracting more expatriates and foreign companies, and helping Chinese companies to expand overseas.
Jia Xiudong, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said the main purpose to setup consulates is to provide services and protection to foreign citizens and enterprises. The consulate also provides visa, commerce and trade services to the resident country.
He said foreign countries build consulates in a city to maintain commerce and trade cooperation and to observe the resident country's economy.
"As China pushes development in western regions, foreign countries increasingly value Chongqing," Jia said.
Ji Jin contributed to the story
(China Daily 01/09/2014 page3)