Mr. Pim van den Berg – 荷兰乌特勒支省副省长 – Vice-Governor of Utrecht Province of the Netherlands.

The vice-governor of Utrecht, Mr. Pim van den Berg visited Guangdong Province at the beginning of November 2015. DB had the pleasure to interview him in person during his business and city relationship bonding trip to the city of Zhuhai.

Mr. van den Berg was firstly asked what he thought of his first visit to Guangdong Province, specifically his first impression of the city of Zhuhai. The vice-governor responded by stating the following, “The area has a surprisingly hot climate, but everything is very smooth and clear. I’ve found the people here extremely friendly and everywhere is so beautifully decorated with flowers. Also Guangdong Province is extremely innovative and as a result, there are many new economies that are booming here. Specific areas of Guangdong Province that are doing very well economically are Guangzhou and Zhuhai, which is great to see. The economy within Guangdong Province has also had a positive affect worldwide. Because of exploration of the market, companies in Holland have grown because of the great cohesion with companies in this South China area, particularly the province of Utrecht”.

Mr. van den Berg was then asked a question in relation to the 1995 signing of the Friendship Treaty between the province of Utrecht in the Netherlands and the province of Guangdong. He was asked about the key projects the two provinces are working on. In his reply, he spoke about what he believed to be the most important two projects to improve on that are economics and culture, “The economic item relates to our agenda, which is to concentrate on being more Green, Smart and Healthy. To be more Green it is important to think about sustainability i.e. solar and wind projects. For Health, we as a team are concentrating on elderly, medical and nursery help, such as the increase of hospitals and to think of new ways of helping these cities cope by being smarter. For our Smart projects, we feel that the new digital age is important because, like I said earlier innovation is a key principle in what we want to achieve. Products such as WiFi, ETC are just a few specific commodities we want to innovate. Myself and my team since being in Guangdong have visited Gree Electrics, which is a very big air-conditioning, fridge and home supplies company. We’ve also visited a printing company named Seine, which also has a company in Holland, which makes very beautiful printers and is also on the verge of becoming the greatest worldwide distributor of printing products. These are some of the products that companies in China have now invested in within the province of Utrecht. The cultural parts of our key projects are our 20 year anniversary of sisterly relations. The anniversary brought a gift in the form of a very fine Chinese dance and music group to Amersfoort, a city near Utrecht. It was an incredibly impressive performance and seen by many Dutch business partners who are working very closely with Chinese companies. Additionally, there was a meal that was prepared by the Chinese cooking champion who has many restaurants in Utrecht. The meal was enjoyed by both Governmental employees and business conglomerates of both the Netherlands and China”.

DB then asked quickly about the vice-governor’s plans for the involvement of the game industry. Mr. van den Berg then explained the importance of this industry, “Yes, there is a lot of buzz around the game industry. It is a fast-growing sector with games that are both fun, but also ones that we are taking seriously, such as simulation gaming, which we intend to apply for more useful purposes. For example, simulation games have been brought into several universities for students to practise health care more safely in order to become more skilled before actually performing procedures on the human body. Last week we sponsored a ‘game jam’ in Guangzhou where Dutch and Chinese students developed 6 serious games in 48 hours. The main reason why we’re choosing to involve ourselves with the game industry is because of its ICT applications and how again it relates to innovation, which can result in great propositions for both countries”.

Mr. van den Berg was then asked about why The Netherlands’ officials particularly feel the need to focus more on strong media and cultural exchanges as well as economic and trade cooperation. “Well, we concentrate our strategy on strong media and cultural exchanges because to start with, the province of Utrecht is a very highly educated area–at least 42 per cent of the population have a university degree. The people of Utrecht are working in the innovative industries, so we feel it is necessary to transfer Utrecht’s knowledge to the sister province of Guangdong. We also believe we can help the Guangdong province in relation to the future investment climate for Chinese companies. We strongly believe this because Utrecht’s geographical position within the Netherlands is very central, for instance, we are thirty minutes away from Schiphol Airport, which creates great flight connections for all of Europe, we are twenty minutes from Amsterdam and about half an hour from Rotterdam. So I feel that our position can be a useful one because we are truly the gateway into Europe. Also recently, the European Commission appointed Utrecht as the most competitive region of Europe for the second time in-a-row”.

Finally, DB asked the vice-governor about His Majesty King Willem-Alexander’s recent visit to China and what was the highlight of his state visit and what exactly the vice-governor sees in terms of bilateral ties. Mr. van den Berg spoke of several highlights, “Within the delegation of his visit, there were 200 companies and 150 of them were very established Dutch companies. There was also a visit to the Sanyuan Group and dairy farms, which was very successful and important because China’s dairy farms in the past were well-known to be problematic. King Willem-Alexander also felt that it is essential to pass on the knowledge of sustainability, which will pave way for the Chinese environment to produce as green as possible. The organisation of a greener China was spearheaded by the Ms. Marjo Crompvoets, Consul-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands”. DB finished by asking if the vice-governor if he would like to add anything and here’s what he had to say, “Zhuhai is a very clean area and I like here very much. I am also impressed with Guangzhou and we travel to Shenzhen on the 10th November so I am very much looking forward to seeing and comparing these diverse areas of the Pearl River Delta. It is my second time to China as I have been to Beijing and Shanghai, but this is my first time to the South of China and it is a very beautiful place. I also hope we enjoy another 20 years of cooperation with the province of Guangdong after this first very successful first 20 years”.