Jiangsu province is one of China’s economic powerhouses. It’s the third smallest province in China by land area but the most densely populated, and with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in China and second-highest total GDP after Guangdong.
Jiangsu is well connected to New Zealand. There are ten cities and regions in New Zealand with sister cities in Jiangsu. And it’s not only people that fly between our countries. The red knot (huahou) winters on large harbours and estuaries around the North Island and Farewell Spit in the South Island, and flies north in the spring, stopping to feed on the rich tidal flats in Yancheng, northern Jiangsu, before heading to its breeding grounds in Siberia.
On Wednesday 18th October, the New Zealand China Friendship Society confirmed its connection with Jiangsu province by signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) with Jiangsu Provincial People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (JPPAFFC). The MOU was signd in person by NZCFS President Chris Lipscombe and JPPAFFC President Qian Wenhua, in the presence of NZCFS delegation members in Xiangcheng District, Suzhou.
The MOU will be administered on behalf of NZCFS by the Hamilton Branch President, building on the close relationship that already exists between Hamilton City and its sister city Wuxi in Jiangsu province. Coincidentally, current Branch President Fan Miao was also born in Wuxi, and last year was honoured as a Special Envoy of People’s Friendship of Wuxi. Immediate Past President Dave Bromwich was honoured at the same time as a Special Envoy of People’s Friendship of Jiangsu province.
NZCFS delegation members were in Suzhou to attend the Second International Conference on Green and Innovation-driven Urban Development. An afternoon of speeches was followed by two days of site visits, including Suzhou Industrial Park, one of the largest industrial parks in China, developed in association with Singapore, and Taihu Lake Wetland Park.
Delegation members were also able to explore Old Suzhou, crisscrossed by narrow lanes and waterways. The utilisation of waterways for sanitation, for transport, and for recreation is a defining characteristic of Jiangsu’s water towns. Although Jiangsu’s economy is no longer dependent on agricultural outputs, the fact that the character 苏 (su; traditional form 蘇) contains within it the characters for fish (yu) and rice (mi) clearly indicates that the province’s prosperity has traditionally been water-based.
Changing patterns of land use, combined with changing weather patterns will bring new challenges to Jiangsu’s economy and lifestyle. Future conferences on green and innovation-led development hosted by Jiangsu will no doubt explore the impacts of these challenges and possible responses.