Mr. WANG Jinjian Mayor of Yangzhou City, China
TCS: Please introduce the current CJK trilateral exchange projects your organization is participating in (exchange details, annual budget amount, number of participants, etc.)
Mayor WANG: Yangzhou has been an open and inclusive city since ancient times. It is the hometown of Master Jianzhen and the second hometown of Choe Chiwon, one of the most well-known figures in Chinese literature in Korea. In 2008 and 2010, Yangzhou became the friendship city with Gyeongju of Korea and Nara of Japan respectively. In 2019, Yangzhou became the first Chinese city designated as the CCEA after the successful convening of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations. In October of the same year, Yangzhou successfully held the launching ceremony of the ASEAN Plus Three Culture Cities Network. Nearly 200 leaders and guests from the ASEAN Secretariat, the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, and ASEAN Cities of Culture gathered in Yangzhou. Yangzhou Initiative, the outcome of the meeting, was written into Premier Li Keqiang's speech at the 22nd ASEAN Plus Three Summit. In addition, we hold the World Canal Cities Forum annually, inviting local leaders from sister cities such as Kitakyushu in Japan and Suncheon in Korea to participate and deliver online remarks. The 2020 forum also formed the Yangzhou Initiative for the sustainable development of the cultural tourism industry in the world's canal cities.
In 2022, we plan to invite Nara of Japan and Gyeongju of Korea to participate in the 1st Jiangsu Belt and Road Friendship City Cooperation High-level Forum in June. The mayors of the two friendship cities will participate online. We also plan to hold a friendship city short video contest with the theme of displaying the city's style this year and invite Japanese and Korean friendship cities having good relations with Yangzhou to participate.
TCS: Is there background or motive to promote the trilateral exchange projects?
Mayor WANG: Yangzhou has a long history of exchanges with Japan and Korea. Since the reform and opening up, our city has successively established friendship city relations with Karatsu, Atsugi, and Nara in Japan, Yeosu, Yongin, Jeju, and Daegu in Korea. Yangzhou-Taizhou International Airport launched direct flights to Osaka in Japan and Jeju Island in Korea.
Relatives and friends become closer if they visit each other more. During our exchanges with Japan and Korea, we deeply felt that open communication is the theme of the times, the trend of development, and the expectation of the public. In November 2020, General Secretary Xi Jinping inspected Yangzhou and praised "Yangzhou is a good place and plays an important role in China in terms of its ancient city of civilization, culture, and history". We hope to further explore the significance of culture, strengthen cultural exchanges and economic and trade cooperation with Japan and Korea, jointly promote the images of the three places, boost local economic and cultural prosperity, promote mutual understanding among the three sides, deepen spiritual harmony, and contribute to the human community with a shared future.
TCS: Please share if there were any difficulties in planning the exchange projects and how you overcame them.
Mayor WANG: At present, although the three cities have achieved certain outcomes in exchanges and cooperation, there is still a lot of room for expansion. Judging from objective factors, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, direct exchanges between the three cities have been restricted. Currently, we are actively innovating, seeking innovation in response to changes, changing "faceto-face" into "screen-to-screen", and actively exploring new modes of international exchanges and cooperation.
Regarding the content of exchanges, in the past, we focused on cultural exploration. With the deepening of internationalization, we can also cooperate in technology, talents, and industries, and deepen the cooperation between the three cities. Yangzhou has Yangzhou University and various higher vocational and technical colleges. Nara and Gyeongju also have abundant human resources, and the industries between the three places are also complementary to a certain extent. Both China, Japan and Korea joined the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year. We must seize favorable opportunities to jointly promote various cooperation and achieve win-win results.
TCS: What are the changes brought to the exchange projects due to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic?
Mayor WANG: The changes are mainly in the following aspects: First, the number of exchanges between the three cities has decreased significantly in recent years. Second, the way of communication has changed, from face-to-face communication in the past to online communication. Third, the effect of exchanges has been affected to a certain extent, and on-site activities such as economic and trade negotiations and investment promotion have been greatly reduced. At present, we are carrying out the construction of Digital Yangzhou, and we believe that we can further strengthen online tourism, online investment and other activities, especially with the advantage of young people's high knowledge of science and technology and amplify the effect.
TCS: Is there any new trilateral exchange area or project that has not been done before that you would like to start?
Mayor WANG: This year is the first year that RCEP entered into force. China, Japan and Korea have joined this global free trade zone with the largest population, the most diverse member structure, and the greatest development potential. This move will help promote a higher level of economic integration among the three countries, jointly promote the interconnection of the supply chains and industrial chains of the three countries and advance the liberalization and facilitation of international trade and investment.
We hope to further strengthen economic and trade cooperation with Japan and Korea with the help of the implementation of RCEP. The first is to deepen trade exchanges. Japan and Korea are important trading partners of Yangzhou. A large number of commodities in the fields of biomedicine, new medical equipment, new chemical materials, textile and clothing are exported to Japan and Korea. In the first quarter of this year, Yangzhou's import and export volume to Japan and Korea increased by 1.3% and 6.9% respectively. We hope to make good use of the benefits brought by the RCEP, promote more industries and enterprises to participate in the integration of regional industrial chains, develop more well-liked products, support the improvement of the cross-border e-commerce supply chain system, and encourage the development of overseas warehouses, overseas sub-markets, and truly achieve the goal of "buying from the world, selling to the world". The second is to deepen project construction. The Yangzhou Municipal Party Committee and Municipal Government have always regarded foreign investment projects as an important direction for investment promotion and continued to carry out the 530 Investment Promotion Action (attracting 30 Fortune 500 and multinational companies in 5 years). More than 100 Japanese and Korean companies, such as Nisshinbo and Sumitomo Seika of Japan, WOOREE and Power Logics of Korea, have invested and built factories in Yangzhou. In recent years, we have paid attention to ‘Promoting Economic Connections by Holding Events’. In 2021, the ‘Culture City of East Asia Yangzhou’ was held concurrently with the Fireworks March, an International Economic, Trade and Tourism Festival. During the festival, a total of 180 contract projects were signed, in which the total investment in advanced manufacturing and modern service industry projects reached 122.46 billion yuan. In the next step, we hope to take advantage of the 2022 China-Japan (Yangzhou) economic and cultural exchanges, the 2022 Choe Chiwon Academic Seminar & China-Korea International Cooperation Forum, and other opportunities to attract more largescale Japanese and Korean companies to pay attention to and invest in Yangzhou. The third is to deepen cooperation in science and technology innovation. Japan and Korea are rich in scientific and educational resources and are important R&D partners for Yangzhou enterprises to carry out scientific and technological research and technological transformation. A number of R&D projects, including the project between Transimage Technology and Kwangwoon University and the project between Jinfeng Machinery & Electronic and the College of Engineering of Jeonbuk National University, were acknowledged as the provincial-level science and technology cooperation projects. Our city has built a 6 million square meters of science and technology industry complex, established a total scale of 30-billion-yuan industry guidance fund, 2-billion-yuan fund for business startups and innovation, 500-million-yuan special fund for technological transformation, which can provide support services to realize the development and commercialization of scientific and technological achievements shared by Japanese and Korean companies. In particular, our city is currently carrying out the ‘technical transformation and digital transformation’ action plan for enterprises. This year, thousands of Smartization & Digitalization projects will be implemented, covering thousands of industrial enterprises. It is hoped that through cooperating with Japanese and Korean universities having scientific and personnel advantages in industrial software, automation and other aspects, Yangzhou enterprises will develop better and faster.
TCS: If Yangzhou uses social media (SNS) to promote CJK trilateral exchanges, what is the current status of SNS and how do you utilize it?
Mayor WANG: After being awarded the Culture City of East Asia, our city pays attention to the role of social media platforms in publicity and communication, and makes full use of portal websites, internet celebrities, travel experts and other we-media platforms to increase online publicity. The results of Baidu search of "Culture City of East Asia, Yangzhou" have reached 4 million. We also innovatively built the official website of ASEAN Plus Three Culture Cities Network (in Chinese and English) and a WeChat Official account. In each issue, we focus on a "Culture City of East Asia" and systematically introduce the origin of the city, humanistic charm and tourism features, which were spoken highly of by readers. The total number of readers on the Official WeChat account has exceeded 1 million. Both have become important channels for promoting the Culture City of East Asia and the ASEAN Cultural Cities; With the help of the Yangzhou Release application and our city's overseas social media accounts (YouTube, Facebook, etc.), we released Yangzhou's Culture City of East Asia promotional video, regularly publicize the city's culture and introduce the latest developments in the city, display the New Image of Yangzhou, and deliver the Voice of Yangzhou.
TCS: Is there any impact of the trilateral exchange projects on the relevant cities / region directly or indirectly? (i.e. changes in perception of other citizens, number of tourists, diversification of visitors, changes in the population of study abroad students, etc.)
Mayor WANG: Friendship, which derives from close contact between the people, holds the key to sound state-to-state relations. Cultural exchange bridges the close contact between the people. Yangzhou has always focused on using cultural celebrities as a link to deepen exchanges with Japan and Korea. In 2010, our city and Nara jointly promoted the seated statue of Master Jianzhen in Todaiji Temple of Japan to Yangzhou, and held the Jianzhen Spirit Forum. The citizens of the two cities jointly donated funds to build Jianzhen Cherry Blossom Avenue and other activities. In 2007, we started to construct Choe Chiwon Memorial Hall in Yangzhou, the first foreign celebrity memorial hall approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. Today, Cherry Blossom Avenue and Choe Chiwon Memorial Hall are still popular spots for Chinese and foreign tourists. We also receive help from non-governmental organizations to build a solid foundation for tripartite friendship and cooperation. Since 1999, Yangzhou, Yeosu of Korea and Karatsu of Japan have been holding the Trilateral Friendship Cities Go (Board Game) Exchange Tournament, which is one of the cases with the longest history in the local exchanges between China, Japan and Korea. In 2003, Japan's Seibu Shimbun and the Yangzhou Municipal Government cooperated to hold the Jianzhen Marathon. Now this event has been listed as a Gold-Label event by the IAAF, with more than 30,000 runners participating every year. In 2021, our city received 16,100 inbound overnight tourists, most of which were Japanese and Korean. At the same time, we attach importance to the role of transportation to further facilitate the convenience of visiting Japan and Korea. Yangzhou is located at the intersection of Shanghai metropolitan area and Nanjing metropolitan area. Yangzhou-Taizhou International Airport has opened 13 international (regional) routes including Jeju in Korea and Osaka in Japan, with an annual passenger throughput of 3 million. At present, we are making every effort to promote the Yangzhou-Taizhou International Airport Phase II project. After completion, the passenger throughput will exceed 10 million people & times and the cargo and mail throughput will reach 36,000 tons. The personnel exchange and the circulation of factors of production will be further promoted. We also focus on strengthening cooperation in the field of education, and the number of international students exchanged between Yangzhou, Japan and Korea is increasing. From dozens of people at the beginning of the establishment of diplomatic relations to 562 people as of now, the three cities have been advancing the development of universities and academic exchanges.
TCS: What role should the government and TCS have to support in promoting the CJK trilateral exchanges?
Mayor WANG: The Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat is a specialized agency that facilitates the local cities of the three countries to conduct exchanges. On the one hand, it can support some cooperation mechanisms among the governments of China, Japan and Korea, support the exchanges and cooperation among the business sectors of the three countries, and take the lead in organizing online and offline events. For various activities, local cities in China, Japan and Korea could be invited to participate, so as to expand the level and field of exchange. On the other hand, the secretariat can use its unique position to gather successful cases of exchanges between cities in the three countries, and promote the projects that are easy to operate, effective and close to the hearts of the people, and finally achieve active exchanges between local cities in China, Japan and Korea.
TCS: It is reported that the competition for being awarded the Culture City of East Asia in China is quite fierce. What are the examination procedures? What is the secret of Yangzhou being selected as the "2020 Culture City of East Asia"?
Mayor WANG: In China, current application for the Culture City of East Asia currently needs to go through the following six procedures: First, application. The applicant cities should fill in the application form for Culture City of East Asia and report to the provincial department of culture and tourism. The second procedure is the provincial preliminary examination. The provincial department of culture and tourism organizes the preliminary review of the applicant cities and selects some cities with better foundations to be submitted to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The third is to determine candidate cities. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism will determine the candidate cities based on the preliminary review by each province. The fourth is the preparatory work of the candidate cities. The candidate cities will refer to the Culture City of East Asia Application Conditions and Acceptance Scoring Guidelines and carry out the preparatory work. The fifth is national examination. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism invites experts to conduct the review and acceptance in accordance with the process of collective preliminary review, unannounced on-site visits and final review defense. The sixth is approval. The evaluation results will be reported to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for approval, and the results of the selection will be notified in writing to the elected cities by the Bureau of International Exchange and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The results will be announced at the Trilateral Culture Ministers' Meeting.
The success of Yangzhou is mainly due to the efforts made in two aspects: First, to fully demonstrate the historical role of Yangzhou in cultural exchanges in East Asia. Yangzhou is located at the intersection of the Land Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road. It is an important channel for East Asian cultural exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations. It is also a city with a long history and plays a pivotal role in the history of national cultural exchanges, especially in the history of East Asian cultural exchanges. When our city introduced the important position of its cultural exchanges between China, Japan and Korea, we selected ‘Two Celebrities (Jianzhen and Choe Chiwon)’, ‘One River (Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal)’ and ‘One Poem (The journey to Yangzhou in March, a time when flowers were blooming. 烟花三月下扬州)’ that can best represent Yangzhou's history and culture. They truly show the beauty of Yangzhou’s ancient culture and modern civilization. The second is to actively enhance Yangzhou's influence in international cultural exchanges. Yangzhou has carried out a lot of work on cultural place development, cultural preservation, cultural prosperity, and cultural exchange. In the field of cultural place development, we have the China Yangzhou Grand Canal Museum, Dongguan Historical and Cultural Street, Jianzhen Memorial Hall, Choe Chiwon Memorial Hall, etc.; Regarding cultural preservation, we have made the Regulations on the Protection of Yangzhou Ancient City and won the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award. In terms of cultural prosperity, we have been developing ancient Yangzhou poetry and calligraphy, Chinese studies, and traditional opera. In cultural exchanges, as the leading applicant city for the China Grand Canal for UNESCO World Heritage, Yangzhou maintains extensive exchanges with Europe, America, Japan, Korea, Africa, and etc. to expand its influence.
TCS: What influence do you hope the Culture City of East Asia will bring to the region and the people? What are the benefits in this regard?
Mayor WANG: The Culture City of East Asia is the first international cultural city awarding event in Asia co-organized by China, Japan and Korea, and is an important achievement of the cultural exchanges among the three countries. We earnestly hope that the Culture City of East Asia will not only become the highest platform for regional cultural cooperation in East Asia, but also become an international platform that drives the level of economic, social and cultural exchanges in the region. Taking Yangzhou as an example, economic and trade exchanges with Japan and Korea have entered a "new track" since it was awarded the CCEA in 2019. The Yangzhou Municipal Government issued the The Implementation Plan of 2020 Culture City of East Asia Yangzhou Activity Year. Under the theme of "Finding Beauty in Yangzhou", we held the Culture City of East Asia Yangzhou Activity Year, East Asian Cultural Capital Alliances Workshop and a series of international cultural exchange activities, including the 2020 World Canal City Forum, CJK Calligraphy and Seal Cutting Joint Exhibition, and the Grand Canal cultural tourism promotion and other activities. We successfully created a series of activities such as "CCEA + Trade ", "CCEA + Food", "CCEA + Sports", and "CCEA + Gardening" to show the humanistic charm of Yangzhou from multiple angles, forms and elements. We hope that with the help of Culture City of East Asia, we will strengthen all-round economic, social and cultural cooperation and exchanges between East Asian cities, continuously enrich the cultural life of citizens, improve the quality of life of citizens, and build an advanced urban cultural system, promote the progress of urban civilization and economic prosperity, and realize the transformation and high-quality development of cities led by culture.
TCS: Most of the Culture Cities of East Asia will still carry out follow-up exchanges after being awarded. Can you introduce the exchange plans (or general work directions) between Yangzhou, Suncheon, and Kitakyushu in 2022?
Mayor WANG: Since being awarded as the Culture City of East Asia in 2019, Yangzhou has continued to carry out a wide range of activities among East Asian cities, such as youth online interaction, cultural gifts exchange, cultural products and creative food display, short video competition and other activities. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, our city donated epidemic prevention materials to Kitakyushu City of Japan and Suncheon of Korea, and strengthened the exchanges and cooperation in epidemic prevention and control. Suncheon of Korea donated more than 5,000 KF94 masks to Yangzhou. Kitakyushu of Japan donated 48 sets of protective clothing to Yangzhou, which further strengthened the friendship among the three cities. Carved on the steel in front of Jianzhen Memorial Hall of Daming Temple in Yangzhou, the poem "Though separated by mountains and rivers, we share one moon under the same sky. (山川异域、风月同天)" has become a warm expression of Sino-Japanese friendship.
In the next step, we plan to prepare for the CCEA China-Japan-Korea Calligraphy and Painting Exhibition, and the Cultural and Creative Product Market, a sub-event of the 2022 China-Japan (Yangzhou) economic and cultural exchange. At the same time, we will actively explore the possibility of establishing Friendship/Sister relations with Suncheon and Kitakyushu and lay a foundation for the expansion of friendly exchanges between the three cities in the future.
TCS: In order to promote the sustainable development of the Culture City of East Asia project and promote the continuous development of follow-up exchanges, what role do you expect the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat to play?
Mayor WANG: At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is still at a high level, and international economic and trade exchanges have been greatly affected, especially that face-to-face exchanges and large-scale expositions have been greatly reduced. Against such a background, it is expected that the TCS and East Asian cities will vigorously advocate cooperation and talent exchanges in the fields of economy, society and culture, and provide opportunities and windows for the business and industrial sectors of the three countries to continue deepening economic and trade cooperation. It is also expected that the TCS will become a platform and link for mutual understanding, mutual trust and cooperation among East Asian countries and cities, plan more trilateral cooperation activities (online activities can be planned at this stage) and bring more confidence to the regional and international economic recovery. It is especially hoped that the TCS will continue to support the economic and social development of Yangzhou. In addition, representatives of the TCS are welcome to visit Yangzhou when conditions permit, learn about the economic, social and cultural development of our city on the spot, and promote Yangzhou’s economic and cultural exchanges with other countries.