Ms. Marjo Crompvoets – 荷兰驻广州总领事 – Consul-General of the Netherlands in Guangzhou.

Ms. Marjo Crompvoets was appointed the position as HM Consul General of the Netherlands in Guangzhou on the 19th July 2015. Her main responsibility is to lead the Dutch government’s engagement in the four provinces of the South China region: Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi and Hainan. Ms. Crompvoets has two postgraduate degrees, one in Chinese Culture and Languages from Leiden University and the other, respectively in International Relations, of which she obtained when studying at Groningen University.

DB was able to arrange a meeting with Ms. Crompvoets and asked her about her role as the Consul-General and about the recent cooperation between the Netherlands and China.

Firstly, DB asked Ms. Crompvoets about her new role as Consul General.

“As you know, I arrived in July and I’m feeling positive about how dynamic and vibrant the area of Guangdong is and everyday is different. My role requires me to cover 4 provinces such as Guangxi, Guangdong, Hainan and Fujian and what I have been mainly concentrating on is to promote and support Dutch businesses within this region of Southern China.” She replied.

“The way we approach this is the unique Dutch way of thinking and working, which relates to the usage of water. To expand on this, I have to explain that the Netherlands is separate from the rest of the world because our country lies on a low delta, much like the Pearl River Delta. Over the history of our country, we have developed innovative ways to deal with the exposure of the forces of nature, such as flooding. This is so, because we have tamed andcontrolled water within deltas that are crowded, which has shaped our way of thinking. We have a very open and pragmatic way of doing business, to come up with solutions and to embrace challenges. That is the way we like to do business here in the Pearl River Delta and from what I’ve gathered, Chinese people don’t mind the Dutch way of being direct, but we are aware not to offend, because the Asian culture can sometimes clash with our way of thinking.”

“We also want to promote Dutch culture and art, as well as trading businesses and we want to above all attract Chinese investments to the Netherlands. In fact, we have recently aquired 10 projects that involve Chinese investors so we are happy with our progress so far. I think that by investing in the Netherlands, Chinese businesses have access to the gateway of Europe.”

We asked Ms. Crompvoets about the cooperation of China and the Netherlands in an area such as the Guangdong province, which is rich in industrial, financial and cultural developments. “Guangdong is a prominent contributor to China’s GDP and the particular aspects where the Dutch can contribute to this is innovation and connectivity. So, we along with Chinese collaborators hope to make Guangdong even more prosperous by 2020, if it hasn’t already happened by then, which I’m confident it will. Specific sectors the Netherlands wants to guide Guangdong with are creative and agriculture. Also, on the 10th December 2015, an MOU will be signed between the Netherlands and representatives of Guangdong in order to implement the science and cooperation industry between scientists and industrial parties from both the Netherlands and Guangdong. This fills in with the agenda of both countries, which is to strive for a better environment.”

“Another aspect of Guangdong that is being looked at is the maritime purposes of the Guangdong area. Ship building is an important part of the maritime industry in Guangdong and with the Netherlands being a prominent force in the maritime industry for centuries now, we see this as another opportunity for cooperation and to create a strong relationship. This cooperation can only occur if there is a clear understanding of each other’s culture and this understanding is really the ‘soul’ of economic development”.

With Guangdong and Utrecht being sister provinces, we spoke to the Consul-General about the 20th anniversary of this bonding relationship and how Guangdong and Utrecht can work together. “The sister province relationship is incredibly strong because both areas put a lot of effort into the relationship. The main concentration of this relationship is areas that are of similar interest. These similar interests include to become more ‘green’, ‘smart’ and ‘healthy’. So life science is key and we have some companies in Utrecht that are active in low-carbon, which has developed a lot of interest from Guangdong”.

DB then asked what ongoing and upcoming events the Consul-General has planned. Ms. Crompvoets replied with this statement, “The UABB in Shenzhen has a large representation of Dutch exhibitions and seminars that concentrate on urbanisation and planning. We also have a Sino-Dutch Chemical seminar, which will focus on reducing energy consumption and create more efficient use of materials by both China and the Netherlands from 2016 onwards. In Shenzhen, there will be an exhibition called, ‘The Future of Fashion is Now’ and that will be held in the OCT Art and Design Gallery in March 2016. This fashion exhibition will be a way of hopefully increasing the awareness of the Dutch fashion design industry. Also we are trying to increase the Netherlands’ presence in the field of fighting polluted water and soil sanitation.”

DB had one final question for the Consul-General Ms. Marjo Crompvoets, which was whether she had a chance to travel around the Pearl River Delta and which was her favourite city and why. “You could say that I am impressed with Zhuhai, but each city has its own specifics, for example, Shenzhen amazes me of how much it has changed in the past 15 years, it really is astonishing. Guangzhou still has its character and it is nice to be able to find the old areas still being preserved, which shows that the traditions of China are still alive. For Zhuhai, its location is great and it really is a beautiful city and one that is developing constantly.”