The delegation of Mayor Jukka Mäkelä, Director of Economic and Urban Development Tuula Antola and Head of International Affairs Milla Ovaska made an intensive three-day trip to Shanghai on 14–17 April 2018. Their programme included meetings with the city government, the Science and Technology Commission and the Foreign Affairs Office of Shanghai Municipality. They for example discussed the milestones of the two cities’ cooperation, such as the expansion of the SLUSH startup event to Shanghai, close cooperation in the fields of upper secondary and university education, and Espoo’s presence in the Shanghai International Technology and International Fair as its first guest of honour in 2017. New openings were also discussed, such as the Finnish sports-oriented upper secondary schools as a concept. China is preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. This has caused a winter sports boom in the country and sparked interest in Finnish know-how, particularly in youth sports training and ice hockey. The City of Shanghai is preparing for the first Shanghai International Import Expo to be held in November, an event targeted at foreign companies seeking to expand into the Chinese market. As the City of Espoo will be part of the Finnish delegation, the two cities decided to hold an auxiliary event together during the Expo.
PHOTO: Jukka Mäkelä and Vice Mayor Xu Kunlin who is responsible for Shanghai’s international networks.
City of Espoo opens doors to the Chinese market for people and companies from Espoo and Finland
In China, representatives of public administration play a significant role in the launch of new trade relationships and cooperation projects. In the sister city cooperation, the City of Espoo’s task is to open doors to Shanghai for Espoo-based and Finnish operators and to promote the entry of Chinese actors in Espoo and Finland. The Mayor’s delegation to Shanghai also included Jan Wahlberg, Consul General of Finland to Shanghai, and Jaani Heinonen, Vice President, Head of Region East Asia at Business Finland.
“Espoo’s warm relationship with Shanghai is a unique stepping stone for the entire Finnish presence in eastern China. The cities are world-class innovation centres, benefiting greatly of this cooperation, especially in the fields of education and urban planning.”
– Jan Wahlberg, Consul General, Consulate General of Finland, Shanghai
The Mayor’s delegation visited the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park and met representatives of the Pudong district government. They discussed about launching cooperation between Zhangjiang and Espoo Innovation Garden, the largest innovation community in Northern Europe. The delegation also visited Yoozoo, the leading game developer in China, and enjoyed a tour of Tongji University, one of the close partners of Aalto University.
To celebrate 20 years of cooperation between Espoo and Shanghai this year, the cities organised a journalist exchange. Five Finnish journalists participated in the Mayor’s programme, getting to know Shanghai’s development. As their trip to Shanghai lasted for a week, they had time to visit local companies, the largest technology fair in China, and to meet Finnish journalists based in Shanghai. Chinese journalists from Shanghai will arrive in Espoo in late May.
PHOTO: The journalists visiting Hema, a supermarket that promises to deliver online purchases within a 3-kilometre radius in 30 minutes.
Espoo invites everyone to celebrate 20 years of cooperation
The City of Espoo will celebrate its 20th year of cooperation with Shanghai throughout the year. The entire city is invited to organise China-related events. See the participation instructions and the programme on the Espoo and Shanghai 20 years website. The main event of the year will be a traditional Mid-Autumn Festival on 13 September 2018 on Hanasaari island. During the jubilee year, the city will receive several delegations from Shanghai, for example from the city’s sports, urban planning and equality departments.
“It is important that we cooperate on all levels. Visits by city representatives, cooperation between institutions of higher education, students exchange opportunities for schools, the connections between our startup communities, and new business opportunities are equally important. Our partnership with Shanghai is so important because it enables cooperation and increasing understanding between people, companies and higher education institutions.”