15th KAS Alumni meeting in China 2012

Sustainable China: Urbanity – Sustainability – Participation

Also available in Deutsch

From September 20th till 23rd the 15th KAS alumni meeting on the topic „Sustainable China: Urbanity – Sustainability – Participation” took place in Chongqing, Yichang and on the Yangtze River.

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KAS Altstipendiatentreffen 2012 VI

15th KAS alumni meeting 2012.

The Chinese alumni, that got the opportunity to study in Germany through funding provided by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in the past, remain in close to the foundation. They are an important resource for the offices of KAS in China, as they posses detailed knowledge of the developments of the country and reflect them critically. Because of the diversity of their occupations they have a wide expertise in the fields of domestic and social politics, law, economic development as well as energy and environmental protection. During this year’s 15th KAS alumni meeting the presentations and discussions focused on the future development model of China.

In the beginning of their get together the alumni discussed in how far Western China has become more significant in the German-Chinese relationship throughout the past years with the vice consul general of Germany in Chengdu Ms. Claudia Spahl. Against the background of the „Go-West Policy“ (Xibu Da Kaifa) introduced in 2000, Western and Central China have become more attractive to German companies, as the infrastructure has been improved, production costs are lower and there are several financial incentives provided by the provincial and local governments. The cultural and political exchange between German federal states and Chinese provinces has been deepened as well. Examples are cooperation projects in the areas of „low carbon development” and vocational training.

With a population of about 35 million, Chongqing has become the biggest metropolis region in China. Within the framework of a visit of the party school of Chongqing, Prof. Zhang Xinhua, who teaches at the party school, and Dr. Chen Taifeng, a representative of the municipal government of Chongqing, outlined the development of the region and its role in the strategy of the development of the underdeveloped regions in China. Chongqing (and the surrounding towns and rural areas) have been separated from Sichuan province and received the status of a province-level municipality, jus like Beijing and Shanghai, in 1997. Chongqing had to carry the main burden of the immense resettlement project as part of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. New living space and new employment opportunity had to be created for those people that had to leave their former homes due to the project, as well as for the high number of migrant workers from the surrounding rural areas.

The main event of this years alumni meeting occupied with the question, how the Chinese economy can become more sustainable and how a „Green Economy“ be established in China. In the first panel Prof. Dr. Shi Shiwei from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing outlined why after 30 years of “reform and opening up” a reorientation of the Chinese growth model is essential. By abolishing the focus on investment and exports and by fostering stronger domestic demand, it would not only be possible to create a less resource intensive, but at the same time a more independent and more socially inclusive development of the Chinese economy. In order to reach this goal, the income of wide parts of the population has to be raised and the social security system needs to be extended. Dr. Ou Minhui, professor at the Shanghai-Hamburg College of the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, pointed out the great importance of innovation to achieve the goal of sustainable development in China. The share of research & development expenditure of the Chinese GDP is already increasing considerably, but it needs to be supplemented with a reform of the education system and the promotion of basic innovations. Ma Yingwei, Managing Director of SBS Stage Engineering, showed from his perspective as an entrepreneur, how fast Chinese companies can catch up with international ones. Through decades of international cooperation not only the quality of their products has increased, but environmental standards are also being adopted. On the other hand there are still not enough incentives to invest in sustainability in many sectors; especially in the building sector.

The second Panel focused on different aspects of climate protection in China. Zheng Liqiao, director of the department of European affairs at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented Chinas international climate policies and stressed that Beijing, in the last years, made great efforts to reduce the global green house emissions. Johannes Grünhage, head of the German Energy Center & College (GECC) in Shanghai, pointed out that a decoupling of energy usage and economic growth is required and also possible in China. He showed this using the example of the immense energy saving potential through energy efficient building. In this area German technology can make an important contribution. Dr. Du Miao, General Manager of Hoppecke Battery Systems China, explained the significance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for climate protection. He stressed that costumers of products increasingly appreciate environmentally friendly production and the compliance with social and security standards and are willing to pay a higher price for this.

In the third panel the possible contributions to environmental and climate protection of every single citizen was discussed. It was made clear that the awareness of Chinese people has already increased: Climate protection is more and more considered a duty of society, which can be also seen in the increasing numbers of NGOs and citizen initiatives in this field. In the following discussion it was pointed out that the young generation needs to be educated in school about opportunities of energy saving and environmental protection and that social engagement has to be further promoted in China. Furthermore incentives for companies as well as for individuals to save energy should be raised through higher energy prices and subventions for energy saving technologies.

During the final part of the seminar in the city of Yichang/ Hubei province the role of society in the field of environmental protection was discussed. The former secretary general of the well-known Alashan Society of Entrepreneurs & Ecology and founder of the One Foundation (Yi Jijin), Dr. Yang Peng illustrated the work of these foundations. The environmental sector is, in his opinion, an ideal area of social engagement, as it is less sensitive in the eyes of the Chinese government and Chinese companies are increasingly interested in becoming active in this field. For Dr. Yang the internal democratic structures and processes of NGOs are important learning field, from which new impulses for the People’s Republic, its society and its politics can stem from.

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China, September 25, 2012


Tim Wenniges