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  • High-level luncheon exploring the prospects of the Sino – European relations

    Brussels May 24th, 2023 A high-level luncheon chaired by H.E. Erik Solheim, vice-chair of the Europe-Asia Center on the occasion of the visit to Brussels by the Executive Committee of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) explored the leaders insight on EU – China dialogue and prospects of Sino –European relations. Among the participating guests the center was delighted to host H.E. Secretary of State Baron Frans van Daele, Dr. Henry Huiyao Wang, Founder and President of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), Dr. Mabel Lu MIAO, Co-founder and Secretary-General of CCG, Mr. Dominic Porter, Head of Division China, EEAS, Mr. WANG Yiwei, Jean Monnet Chair Professor. Key topics on the EU-China dialogue were comprehensively addressed during the luncheon, encompassing discussions on the EU-China Investment and Trade Agreement, EU’s Strategic autonomy, cooperation in the quest of addressing the global climate challenges and engagement of the global South. An instrumental outcome of the luncheon was the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Europe-Asia Center and the Center for China and Globalization (CCG). The MOU was signed with an objective of expanding the existing cooperation scope in the areas of research, academic engagement, governance and business engagement, and people-to-people exchange. The cooperation will involve joint research projects, different forum frameworks focusing on strengthened people to people exchange. For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: H.E. Mr. Pham Sanh Chau, former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Viet Nam to India and Mrs. Sheila Arora, former Vice Chair of Belgium Hong Kong Society become Vice-Chair

    Brussels – Hanoi May 16th, 2023 The Brussels based Europe-Asia Center is delighted to announce the appointments of Vietnamese diplomat H.E. Mr. Pham Sanh Chau (formerly Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Viet Nam to the Republic of India, the Kingdom of Bhutan, and the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Kingdom of Belgium, EU and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) and Mrs. Sheila Arora, an internationally experienced strategic marketing and communications expert. As Vice-Chair of the Europe-Asia Center, Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau will lead the center’s developments in Viet Nam as well as projects promoting intercultural dialogue and international cooperation, two areas of great importance for connecting Europe and Asia. With a wealth of experiences in roles at UNESCO, including Secretary -General of the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO, special envoy of the Prime Minister of Viet Nam on UNESCO Affairs, a member of UNESCO’s Executive Board and as the 2017 official candidate of the Vietnamese government for the Director General post. With deep understanding of multilateralism, Pham Sanh Chau is well-positioned to help broaden the Center’s presence in South-East Asia. Mrs. Sheila Arora will focus on the initiation and development of strategic partnerships and initiatives, using cultural diplomacy as the tool for bridging high-level exchanges across the field of governance, commercial and non-for profit sector. With over 30 years of experience in the sphere of soft diplomacy, Mrs Arora is the right partner center’s development of fresh and non-traditional context of engagement. “We are thrilled to welcome Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau and Shelia Arora to the Europe-Asia Center,” said Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel, Chairman of the Europe-Asia Center. Pham Sanh’s leadership and vast diplomatic experiences combined with understanding of multilateral organizations and Shelia’s business development and strategic communication experience will be invaluable assets for the Center. As Vice-Chairs of the Europe – Asia Center, Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau and Mrs. Shelia Arora will work closely with the Center to broaden its international partnership and engage with stakeholders across Europe and Asia. About the Europe-Asia Center The Europe – Asia Center is an independent, not-for-profit organization promoting Asia-Europe relations by connecting professionals, institutions, organizations and networks across all sectors. Through implementation of projects, including conferences, workshops, cultural events, publications, educational and research programs, the mission of the Europe – Asia Center is to connect people and knowledge across continents. For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: Da Lat City Engages in Consultation with Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau to Discuss UNESCO Recognition Proposal

    Viet Nam – May 15th, 2023 Brussels – Viet Nam 15th May 2023 – On behalf of the Europe – Asia Center, Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau has recently paid a visit to the Da Lat City authorities to deliberate on the proposal for designating Da Lat as a World cultural heritage site. During the dialogue meeting, the People’s Committee of Da Lat City extended an invitation to Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau for facilitation and presented the proposal. Based on the advice of Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau, it is evident that Da Lat possesses the essential elements to become a future world heritage site, particularly fulfilling criterion (ii) for World Cultural Heritage: showcasing a significant exchange of human values across a specific cultural area or over time, pertaining to architecture, technology, monumental arts, town planning, or landscape design. Dang Tri Dung, a member of the Provincial Standing Committee and Secretary of the Da Lat Committee expressed the aspiration of the People’s Committee of Da Lat City to expedite the project of transforming Da Lat into a world cultural heritage site. This endeavor aims to bring substantial benefits to the city itself and the nation of Vietnam. Meeting Proposing UNESCO Recognition of Da Lat Heritage Site To facilitate the recognition of Da Lat City as a World Heritage City, the People’s Committee of Lam Dong Province has entrusted the collaboration of the Da Lat City People’s Committee, the Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, as well as other relevant departments, agencies, and units, to conduct research, develop proposals, complete documentation, and handle necessary procedures. The ultimate objective is to formally propose the recognition of Da Lat as a World Heritage City. Once the proposal is finalized, it will undergo thorough evaluation and resolution by the appropriate authorities, adhering to established regulations. If successful, Da Lat will join the prestigious ranks of the nine UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Sites in Vietnam. Exploring Architectural Landmarks that Contribute to Da Lat’s Cultural Heritage Status About the Da Lat City Da Lat is renowned for its rich biodiversity and abundant vegetation. Situated at an average altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level, the mild climate offers the perfect habitat for numerous endemic species of trees, flowers, and animals. Notably, Da Lat is celebrated for its exquisite and vibrant array of flowers, including roses, gerberas, hydrangeas, and lilies. Da Lat proudly showcases a meticulously preserved urban structure that has evolved throughout the centuries. The city boasts a remarkable collection of unique architectural and urban heritage, contributing to its distinctive allure. Noteworthy among these are various religious landmarks that exhibit a fusion of Vietnamese and French architectural styles, such as Domaine de Marie Church, Bao Dai Palace, and Hospital de Sohier, among others. Domaine de Marie Church in Dat Lat These religious structures reflect the cultural and religious diversity of Da Lat, reminiscent of the picturesque city of Luang Prabang, renowned for its Buddhist temples and French colonial architecture. The city’s landscape has been thoughtfully crafted, maintaining a harmonious interplay between human-made elements and the surrounding natural environment. Moreover, Da Lat holds significant historical and cultural importance, with dedicated efforts in place to conserve and further enhance its urban fabric. For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: A Retrospective Exhibition on the occasion of the UN Chinese Language Day: Paintings of the Song Dynasty from the Great Collection of Chinese Paintings Through Ages

    Brussels – Geneva – April 24th, 2023 Brussels – 17th April 2023 – On April 20, coinciding with the seasonal division of “Grain Rain” and the United Nations Chinese Language Day, “A Gold Age of Grace” – a retrospective exhibition celebrating the UN Chinese Language Day: paintings of the Song dynasty from the “Great Collection of Chinese Paintings Through Ages” opened at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. The event was co-hosted by the Chinese Mission to the United Nations Office at Geneva, the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, and Zhejiang University. Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Ms. Tatiana Valovaya, warmly welcomed the ambassadors and distinguished guests who came to celebrate the UN Chinese Language Day this year. In her speech, she highlighted the significance of understanding the cultural heritage of different countries and regions, which she believes can serve as a basis for promoting intercultural dialogue and overcoming challenges. Valovaya described the Song painting exhibition as an extraordinary journey that showcases China’s magnificent landscapes, exquisite art, and humanistic spirit. She concluded by congratulating all the people around the world who love, learn, and speak Chinese on this special day and expressed sincere thanks to the organizers for their enormous efforts to make this event happen, with splendid displays leaving lasting impressions on the visitors. Ambassador CHEN Xu, Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland, extended his heartfelt congratulations on the offline celebration of the United Nations Chinese Language Day, which is being held for the first time in three years. He highlighted President Xi Jinping’s Global Civilization Initiative’s proposal and called for the principle of inclusive coexistence, exchange, and mutual learning between different civilizations. He expressed his hope that the event could help attendees gain a better understanding of China’s history and culture, and appreciate the wisdom and strength embodied in different civilizations. Mr. YANG Jianwu, Director General of the Zhejiang Provincial Cultural Heritage Administration, pointed out that the Song Dynasty condensed China’s ultimate art aesthetic. As a business card of Chinese art, Song paintings are a common treasure of human civilization. Civilizations interact through diversity, learn from each other through interaction, and develop through mutual learning. He hoped that this exhibition would be a new starting point for exchange and cooperation between China and Switzerland, marking a new chapter of friendship between China and Switzerland. The exhibition, themed “A Golden Age of Grace” displays 78 classic works from the “Great Collection of Chinese Paintings Through Ages” in the form of high-definition printed replicas. The “Great Collection of Chinese Paintings Through Ages” is a significant cultural project on a national level, spanning throughout centuries of dialogue between China and the world. It is an impressive co-creation by Zhejiang University, the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, along with 263 other cultural institutions and museums worldwide, comprising 12,405 pieces (sets) of Chinese paintings, featuring numerous renowned masterpieces. The exhibition is divided into three sections: “Figure painting: writing poems for all,” “Flower-and-Bird Painting: Embroidering Words for Living Beings,” and “Landscape Painting: Singing Praises to Heaven and Earth”. The figure paintings portray daily life of all cultural classes, reflecting the development of the social economy and the change of the painters’ aesthetic taste during the Song Dynasty rule. The flower and bird motive paintings showcase nature’s creations, including flowers, birds, fish, and insects, using superb techniques to vividly depict them, and express literary emotions through poetry, lyrics, calligraphy, and seals. The landscape paintings describe magnificent mountains and rivers. The artistic expression of Song painters was surpassing the superficiality of the landscapes, achieving highlights of the deep spiritual embodiment of mountains and rivers in their art. The opening ceremony commenced with a string quartet reinterpretation of “Tea-picking Dance,” followed by a captivating vocal performance of “Prelude to Water Melody” by German mezzo-soprano Eva Wennige, accompanied by the harmonious sounds of the ancient Chinese instruments of Guqin and Harp. The music dialogue of the ensemble shared the aspiration and true embodiment of China-Europe cultural dialogue, transcending the physical and cultural distances. The event also featured a special reciting performance by Cameron James Patterson, reciting two poems by Song Dynasty poet Su Shi, “Drinking by West Lake after a Rain”, which depict the natural beauty of West Lake. In the interactive activities area, Zhang Yiwen from the Zhejiang school of Guqin, Fan Junwen, an inheritor of the “Tea-picking” intangible cultural heritage, and Zhu Jianwei, a member of the China Calligraphers and Painters Association, collaborated in a majestic display of three traditional art forms – Guqin, Tea ceremony and calligraphy. Over 200 attendees, including Ambassadors and members of the UN international organizations were able to participated in tea-picking, brush calligraphy, fan painting, and Virtual reality experience. This grand event, “A Gold Age of Grace” – a retrospective exhibition for celebrating the UN Chinese Language Day: paintings of the Song dynasty from the “Great Collection of Chinese Paintings Through Ages”, will remain available for viewing at the Palais des Nations until May 3rd, 2023. For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: A High-Level Dialogue on the Occasion of the Visit to Brussels by Mr. Christopher Hui -“Hong Kong’s Unique Position as the Green Finance and Fintech Capital of Asia”

    Brussels – April 13th, 2023 Brussels – 17th April 2023 – “Hong Kong’s Unique Position as the Green Finance and Fintech Capital of Asia”, a high-level dialogue event co-hosted by the Europe-Asia Center and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels, was held on April 13, 2023, in Brussels. The event was organized to coincide with the visit to Brussels by Mr. Christopher Hui, GBS, JP, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. In presence of distinguished guests, including Mr. Christopher Hui, H.E. Cao Zhongming (Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Belgium), Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel (Chairman of the Europe-Asia Center), the event explored Hong Kong’s unique position as a global hub for green finance and fintech. Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel delivered the opening address, highlighting the importance of the growing collaboration between Hong Kong and the EU on green finance and the fight against climate change. The speech recognised the significance of Mr. Hui’s visit to Brussels as the first senior official from Hong Kong to visit since the lifting of Covid restrictions, and how it set the stage for closer cooperation between Europe and Hong Kong. He acknowledged Hong Kong’s achievements as a global Fintech hub, with its competitive regulatory framework and logistical and administrative capabilities for the rapid scale-up of start-ups, demonstrating Hong Kong’s commitment to innovation, creativity, and forward-thinking. H.E. Erik Solheim, Vice Chair of the Europe-Asia Center, praised Hong Kong’s progress in promoting green finance and its commitment to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. He emphasized Hong Kong’s potential to lead the development of green finance in Asia in collaboration with global partners. Applauding Hong Kong’s unique position as the green finance and fintech capital of Asia, Solheim commended the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s ‘Fintech 2025 strategy’ and the government’s support of infrastructure development and subsidies for technology adoption. He emphasized the potential for fintech cooperation between Europe and Hong Kong, particularly in the areas of mobile and digital payments, blockchain technology, insurtech, and wealth management. The guest of honour, Mr. Christopher Hui unveiled with great enthusiasm Hong Kong’s ambitious goals for both FinTech and green finance. He shared Hong Kong’s commitment to the global vision of reducing carbon emissions and realizing sustainable development, highlighting the government’s climate action plan to reduce carbon emissions by 50% before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2050. Mr. Hui discussed Hong Kong’s leadership in the green finance space, including the issuance of government green bonds and the first-ever tokenized green bond by a government. He shared plans to establish a green technological and finance Development Committee to attract top-notch enterprises or startups to set up their operations in Hong Kong and build a green tech ecosystem, among other initiatives. In addition, he discussed the rapid growth of the FinTech industry in Hong Kong, which is home to over 800 FinTech companies. In a plenary Q&A session moderated by Ms. Sheila Arora (Vice Chair of Europe – Asia Center), Mr. Hui discussed the regulation of virtual assets and the need to protect investors. He highlighted the positive and negative aspects of crypto assets, such as the anonymous nature of transactions and the risk of money laundering and terrorism financing. To safeguard investors, the Hong Kong government has pledged to regulate virtual asset exchanges or trading platforms and impose guardrails such as financial resource requirements and separation of assets. Mr. Hui further addressed the evolution of green finance and sustainability finance, emphasizing the importance of minimizing the risk of greenwashing and incentivizing brown industries to become greener. He underscored the need for capacity building and stakeholder compliance with regulations, as well as the increasing demand for ESG compliance from investors and customers. In response to Mr. Jos Peeters (Chairman of the Capricorn Venture Partners)’ question on raising financing for pilot scale production, Mr. Hui explained Hong Kong’s new regime encouraging specialist tech companies with no revenue or profit to list on the stock exchange. Additionally, private equity and the bond market offer other avenues for funding. Hong Kong is the second largest PE hub in Asia and has a regime of limited partnership funds. Mr. Hui also highlighted the connectivity with international markets through the stock connect program, providing various options for financing and market access for tech companies. For more information about the event and Europe-Asia Center, please visit www.europe-asia.org. For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: The Europe – Asia Center (EAC) and the Centre for EU-Asia Connectivity (CEAC) announce strategic partnership

    Brussels – March 28th, 2023 Brussels – Bochum, March 28, 2023 – The Europe-Asia Center (EAC) and the Centre for EU-Asia Connectivity (CEAC) are delighted to announce their strategic partnership aimed at enhancing the connectivity and collaboration between Europe and Asia. The primary objective of this partnership is to stimulate and deepen academic debates on EU-Asia affairs and connectivity within and between the two regions. Through a range of joint research projects, events, and publications, the partners aim to contribute to academic research, engagement, and policy-relevant knowledge application. Moreover, the partnership is designed to intensify people-to-people exchange and bring together relevant stakeholders from Europe and Asia. It functions as a communication platform with public outreach. Additionally, both CEAC and the Europe-Asia Center offer practical, cross-generational experience through their internship opportunities. The partnership between CEAC and the Europe-Asia Center aims to bring together the expertise and experience of both institutions to further promote connectivity and cooperation between Europe and Asia. The collaboration will facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge in order to enhance overall relations between the two regions, its many actors and stakeholders. “I am proud to announce a new partnership between the Europe-Asia Center (EAC) and the Center for EU-Asia Connectivity (CEAC). This collaboration will enable us to share our resources and develop innovative strategies to further strengthen the ties between Europe and Asia. I am confident that with a clear vision and with mutual respect, we will achieve great things in the very near future.” Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel, Chairman of the Europe-Asia Center. “I am honoured to announce our partnership with the Europe-Asia Center to promote collaboration between our institutions. This strategic partnership represents a significant step towards advancing research activities in the critical domains of EU-Asia affairs and connectivity, particularly in the context of an increasingly fragmented world economy shaped by globalization.” Prof. Dr. Sebastian Bersick, Executive Director of the Centre for EU-Asia Connectivity (CEAC), Jean Monnet Chair, and Head of the Department of ‘International Political Economy of East Asia’ at the Faculty of East Asian Studies at Ruhr University Bochum (RUB). The collaboration between the Europe-Asia Center and CEAC will offer new opportunities for the promotion of connectivity, knowledge dissemination, and people-to-people exchanges between Europe and Asia. The two institutions believe that their joint efforts will make a substantial contribution towards fostering a deeper mutual understanding and increasing stakeholder engagement on vital subjects, such as sustainable development, security, digital affairs, trade and investment, as well as cultural exchange, among others, that are of major significance for both regions. For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: H.E. Mr. Erik Solheim, former UN Deputy Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) becomes the Vice-Chairman of Europe-Asia Center

    Brussels – February 7th, 2023 The Europe-Asia Center, a non-profit based in Brussels, is delighted to announce the appointment of H.E. Mr. Erik Solheim, a Norwegian diplomat and former Minister of Norway, who served as the UN Deputy Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme between 2016 and 2018 as Vice-Chairman of the board. As Vice-Chair of the Europe-Asia Center, Erik Solheim will have key responsibility in promoting the green transition and sustainability, two areas of great importance for the future of Europe-Asian relations. With a wealth of experience in international relations and a deep understanding of the complexities of the global environment, Erik Solheim is well-positioned to help drive forward the Center’s mission of fostering closer ties between Europe and Asia. “We are thrilled to welcome Erik to the Europe-Asia Center,” said Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel, Chairman of the Europe-Asia Center. Erik’s leadership and long experience of international affairs will be an invaluable asset for the Center as we are moving into a more complicated and challenging world. As Vice-Chair of the Europe-Asia Center, Erik Solheim will work closely with the Center to drive forward its strategic priorities, while also engaging with stakeholders across Europe and Asia. “I am honored to join the Europe-Asia Center as its Vice-Chair,” said Erik Solheim. “The green transition, sustainability and preserving natural resources are critical issues for our world and I am eager to work with the Center to help build a more equitable future for all.“ About H.E. Erik Solheim H.E. Erik Solheim is a Norwegian diplomat and former politician who served as the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme from 2016 to 2018. Between 2005 and 2012, he held various cabinet positions in the Norwegian government, including Minister for the Environment and International Development. Erik Solheim is one of the most prominent ambassadors for Green transition, both in business and politics. He is the Vice-chair of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, chairman of the advisory board for Afroz Shah Foundation and the chair of the Developments roundtable at the Green Hydrogen Organization. About the Europe-Asia Center The Europe-Asia Center is an independent, not-for-profit organization promoting Asia-Europe relations by connecting professionals, institutions, organizations and networks across all sectors. Through implementation of projects, including conferences, workshops, cultural events, publications, educational and research programs, the mission of the Europe- Asia Center is to connect people and knowledge across continents. For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: Amb. Piet Steel on a mission trip to Princess Elisabeth Antarctica

    Brussels – January 18th, 2023 Between January 7th and 15th, the Chairman of Europe – Asia Center Amb. (ret.) Piet Steel visited in his capacity as the Vice President of the Belgian Polar Secretariat on Antarctica the Princess Elisabeth base, the scientific base of Belgium in the Antarctic region. He was accompanied by Oliver Périer and Marc Speeckaert, Members of the Board of the International Polar Foundation (PEA), of which the Chairman, Alain Hubert is the Operator of the station. During his visit he held several dialogue meetings in PEA, including with Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environment of South Africa and Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, French Ambassador of the Arctic and Antarctic Region. His visit made significant impression and added to the understanding why PEA is widely seen as a benchmark in terms of renewable energies and CO2 emissions management. He spoke to several Belgian and international scientists using PEA is their base for field experiments and research on matters related to climate change such as meteorology, glaciology and meteorites. The Belgian Princess Elisabeth Station is overall regarded as a role model for which Belgium can be truly proud. Europe – Asia Center is as part of its mission dedicated towards promoting dialogue on global challenges, and we look forward to initiating dialogue on topics of climate change that is most profoundly visible in the North and South Poles. Photo credit: Piet Steel, Europe – Asia Center, 2023 For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: “The Light of Civilization” – A Comprehensive Collection of Ancient Chinese Paintings showcased in Brussels

    De Warande, Brussels – December 5, 2022 “The Light of Civilization”, an exhibition on China’s Song Dynasty paintings in Brussels, organized by Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and Zhejiang University, and supported by Europe-Asia Centre, was officially inaugurated on 5th December 2022 in Brussels. In the majestic setting of Brussel’s prime venue De Warande, nearly 60 guests from the European political, business and art communities were taken on a cultural journey of the great Song Dynasties. Inauguration was celebrated in attendance of H.E. Cao Zhongmin (Ambassador of People’s Republic of China to Belgium), H.E. Xiang Xiaowei and H.E. Xiong Wei (Minister Counsellors of the China Mission to the EU), Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel (Chairman of the Europe -Asia Center), Honourable Dr. Andreas Schwab (Member of the European Parliament, CDU – EPP), Em. Prof. Dr. Luk Taerwe (Director of the East Asian Platform of Ghent University), Frank Schwalba-Hoth (former member of the European Parliament, Green party), Alexander De Beir (Chairman of Belgium HK Society), Guido Gerricauzen (Head of Outreach of the House of European History). Opening ceremony was celebrated with opening notes by Mr Chen Guangsheng (Secretary of the Party Leadership Group, Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism), Ambassador Cao Zhongmin, Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel, Dr. Andreas Schwab and Em. Prof. Dr. Luk Taerwe. Audience at the opening ceremony at De Warande, Brussels. More than Song 100 paintings on display, part of the comprehensive collection of the Ancient Chinese Paintings are presented in three sections: “A Glance at the People’s Daily Life in the Song Dynasty”, “Rhythm of Life in the Flowers and Birds”, “An Externalized Spiritual World in the Landscape Paintings”. Paintings over a reflection of the social and economic development of the Song Dynasty, the elevated status of the literati and the common artistic preferences of all social classes. From delicate technique features to demonstration of vivid details, paintings convey the artistic vision and elevated spiritual meaning. Fascinating time-travel to the breathtaking Song Dynasty era almost a millennium in the past was most frequent impression of the exhibition guests. Secretary of the Party Leadership Group from the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism Mr Chen Guangsheng highlighted the significance of Song Dynasty for reaching the heights of elegance and prosperity. The Song paintings have become the common wealth of human civilization and as the tittle of exhibition indicates, “The Light of Civilization” – contributing to revival of history and developing a joint vision of harmonious future between Europe and China. Chen Guangsheng, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group, Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, in his online address to the audience. In his opening remark, Ambassador Cao Zhongmin highlighted that this exhibition, with the power of technology, allows the audience to better understand the customs and the superb techniques of the artists of the Song Dynasty. A significant exchange providing an unique opportunity for strengthening of Sino-Belgian artistic exchanges and relations. H.E. Cao Zhongmin, Chinese ambassador to Belgium Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel emphasized the significance of culture as an undisputed beacon of dialogue and hope for a better and a more harmonious future. Cultural exchanges with Asia, today more than ever, are necessary and paramount, in a context of a post pandemic world and a challenging international and economic environment. And it is the setting of over 100 paintings that are materialization of eternal beauty, where one can realize the tranquility and harmony of nature. Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel, Chairman of Europe-Asia Center Dr. Andreas Schwab shared the importance of cultural heritage for any cultural context, demonstrating much more than a mere painting technique. Each of the Song paintings tells a story and reflects a greater philosophical vision of society. The inspiration the Renaissance art in Europe or great heritage of Song Dynasty has given to humanity is eternal and beyond context of culture. And it is cultural legacy that should be the source of continued strengthening of dialogue between civilizations of the West and East. Dr. Andreas Schwab, member of the European Parliament (European People’s Party, German Christian Democratic Union Party – CDU). The inauguration was furthermore celebrated with a cultural salon, where the famous European pianist Jean-Francois Maljean, a regular visitor to Zhejiang Province, inspired audience with his piano piece “The Inspiration of Zhejiang”. Prof. Dr. Christoph Anderl from Ghent University shared his expert insights on the culture and artistic achievements of the Song Dynasty. The period of the Song Dynasty was “a period of economic and cultural prosperity, which has been, through the invention of printing technology, expanding by its philosophical and religious thinking across the Central Asia and beyond.” Taking Ma Yuan’s painting ‘Walking on a Mountain Path in Spring’ and Fan Kuan’s ‘Travelers among Mountains and Streams’ as an example, he highlighted to the audience the great variation of perspectives each of the paintings presents. Em. Prof. Dr. Luk Taerwe reflected on his encounters with rich history of Zhejiang’s history, from the Paleolithic Age and the primitive ‘Jiande people’, to the Wuyue culture and Jiangnan culture. Heritage that is a real testimony of Zhejiang being the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilization. Not to forget the numerous inventions, including the movable type printing and gunpowder, inventions that have been brought along the Silk Road thanks to the Song Dynasty. The Song paintings present Zhejiang’s rich cultural diversity and the ultimate aesthetics of Chinese art. The complete collection is compiled and published by Zhejiang University and the Zhejiang Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau. Collection presents a significant national cultural project, result of joint effort of 263 cultural institutions and museums in China and abroad. Partners succeed in collecting 12,405 pieces (sets) of Chinese paintings, covering most of the well-known masterpieces. The complexity and scale of project represents continuously serves as an example of international collaboration promoting civilizational dialogue and human creativity. Photo credit: Europe – Asia Center, 2022 For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: “A Moment in the Song” – A Comprehensive Collection of Ancient Chinese Paintings showcased in London, UK

    Asia House, London – November 23, 2022 “A Moment in the Song”, an exhibition of China’s Song Dynasty paintings in the UK, organized by Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and Zhejiang University, and supported by Europe-Asia Centre, was launched at London’s Asia House. Highlight event was presented as part of the celebration of 50th Anniversary of the diplomatic relations between People’s Republic of China and United Kingdom. Opening speech was presented by Mr Chu Ziyu, Director General of Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, followed by Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel (Chairman of Europe-Asia Center), MP Mark Logan (Member of the British Parliament and Parliamentary Private Secretary), H.E. Yang Xiaoguang (Minister of the Chinese Embassy in the UK), Mr Mick Davies PRBA (Chairman of the Royal Society of British Artists) and Ms Ping Huang FRSA (Secretary General of the Zhejiang UK Association), invited to inaugurate the exhibition. Among the selection of distinguished guests present at the ceremony were also Mr Tony Devenish AM (GLA Member for West Central Councillor for Knightsbridge & Belgravia Ward), Mr Li Liyan (Minister-Counselor of Culture Office in the Chinese Embassy in the UK) and Ms Mei Sim Lai OBE DL (His Majesty the King’s Representative for Brent since 2007). Mark Logan, Member of the Parliament and Parliamentary Private Secretary. The exhibition featured over 100 high-definition prints of Song paintings, which depicts the vibrant life and elegant painting style of the Song Dynasty into four sections: “A Scroll of Song Painting · a History of Thousands of Years”, “Diversified Paintings · Fascinating Brushwork”, “Multicolored World · Wonderful Seasons”, “Poetry of Ink and Wash · Abandon Ourselves to Nature”. Moreover, the exhibition provides interactive zones such as VR film, exquisite Song-style costume display and cultural experience, sharing the Song tea ceremony, incense art, flower arranging and guqin performance to the guests. Mick Davies PRBA, Chairman of the Royal Society of British Artists. Mr Chu Ziyu, Director General of Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, in video address to the guests. H.E. Yang Xiaoguang, Minister of the Chinese Embassy in the UK. Mick Davies PRBA, Chairman of the Royal Society of British Artists with keynote address. Mark Logan, British Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Private Secretary. Ambassador Piet Steel, Chairman of Europe-Asia Center together with his wife Carine Steel, as the hosts of the opening event. Photo credit: Europe – Asia Center, 2022 For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: “Beauty of Harmony – Picturesque Zhejiang 2022” –Inauguration event Zhejiang Culture and Tourism European office

    De Warande, Brussels – November 15, 2022 The event “Beauty of Harmony – Picturesque Zhejiang 2022” was presented as part of inauguration of the European office of Zhejiang Culture and Tourism department. Opening seminar featured keynote address by H.E. Erik Solheim, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), H.E. Mr. Cao Zhongming, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Belgium, Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel, Chairman of the Europe-Asia Center, Mr. Chu Ziyu, Director of the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, and prof. Greg Richards, a leading expert in the field of cultural and creative tourism. Guests were welcomed by Matic Gajšek, Deputy Director of the Europe – Asia Center, who announced the official opening of Zhejiang Culture and Tourism European office. He emphasized the opportunities Zhejiang’s cultural and tourism offer poses for strengthening economic and cultural exchange between China and Europe in the post-epidemic era. In the opening address, Ambassador (ret.) Piet Steel delivered a keynote speech in which he emphasized the important impact of tourism on revitalizing the economy, especially in the light of the global epidemic of the Covid-19. Moreover, the Zhejiang cultural tourism event means that China’s cultural industries, institutions, new platforms and organizational networks can build friendly bridges between China and Europe. As a first guest keynote, H.E. Ambassador Cao Zhongming spoke about the significant impact of Zhejiang’s cultural tourism on China-Europe relations and welcomed the audience to experience Zhejiang. He emphasized the contribution Culture and Tourism Promotion Center in Europe will make for cultural and tourism collaboration, and most importantly promote mutual understanding between Zhejiang and Europe. His excellency Erik Solheim introduced his rich personal experiences with Zhejiang and numerous visits to Hangzhou, which has been profoundly shaped with heritage of Song Yun culture. He shared several examples of environmental leadership, including the highest UN Environmental Award that has been awarded to the province for their significant work in protecting the natural ecosystems. He emphasized the need for stronger exchange and international collaboration in culture and tourism, in light of the post-pandemic recovery and sustainable growth. As the expert contributor to this high-level event, prof. Greg Richards, who is the leading international authority in Cultural and Creative Tourism research, highlighted the progress and increasing significance of cultural tourism throughout the past decade. The new paradigm of cultural tourism, characterized by a shift from passive sightseeing to active living tourism, is offering both new opportunities and re-defining cultural consumption patterns. Hangzhou’s experience illustrates how cities are building cultural and creative centers based on their cultural heritage and broadening the prospects for tourism. The “Picturesque Zhejiang 2022: Culture and Tourism Promotion Center in Europe” was established by the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and the Europe-Asia Center, which represents a new stage and level of economic and cultural exchange and cooperation between Europe and China. The establishment and development of “Picturesque Zhejiang 2022: Culture and Tourism Promotion Center in Europe” will carry out targeted research and survey on the European tourism market as well as develop and promotion of corresponding tourism products. Photo credit: Europe – Asia Center, 2022 For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

  • Press release: Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act – Opportunities and challenges for EU-China relations

    Brussels, 25th October 2022 – Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA)- Opportunities and challenges for EU-China relations: high-level dialogue with European Parliament’s member and lead rapporteur dr. Andreas Schwab (Germany) and dr. Wang Huiyao, President of China Center for Globalization (China) The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) marked a substantial legislative step of digital governance of the European Union. Regulations, which will in current framework mainly target business practices of the U.S. tech giants, created legitimate concern for European policy makers on the future of the EU digital markets, as Chinese digital technology firms could be left alone to grow. While DMA lacks consideration of the future state of Chinese digital technology firms in the EU, the DSA offers elements of policy overlap with Chinese measures in establishing accountability mechanism for digital platforms. Question arises on what opportunities and future challenges DMA and DSA can bring to the EU-China relations. In the opening address, the Chairman of Europe-Asia Center, Amb. (ret.) Piet Steel highlighted: “the DMA and DSA are two landmark legislative steps in Europe’s strive for strategic autonomy, less external dependence and mitigating vulnerabilities.” However, with ongoing geopolitical and trade tensions, one of the landmark trade negotiations of the Comprehensive trade agreement between the EU and China, remains halted. Despite of the challenges, he addressed the need for structured, bilateral or multilateral dialogue in the area of internet governance and leveraging of technology as an enabler for global growth and peace. In his keynote address Dr. Andreas Schwab, member of the European Parliament, People’s Party (EPP) for Germans Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU) and lead rapporteur on DMA/ DSA, highlighted the objective of DMA is to «ensure contestability of 10 specific digital markets such as browsers, operating systems and messaging services». Regulation is therefore focused on the tech giants fulfilling the gatekeeper’s requirements. As for DSA, emphasis is on illegal content and deals with the proliferation of illegal services and the verification of information on digital platforms. However, “the DSA does not define what is illegal (…), making it an issue of alignment with the Criminal law of 27 EU members states.” He highlighted that “both DMA and DSA present laws that tackle internal market legislation and affect all companies (…), and are therefore not discriminatory.” The geopolitical competition between EU, China and the US may lead to tensions in the process of applying the laws. In response to possible tensions, the EU has set up the Trade and technology Council, which will mediate in such circumstances among the key stakeholders. He concluded: “EU wants digital governance to be democratic and as business-oriented as possible…There is space for cooperation, which is not exclusively limited to mutual learning, but also on how online regulation is operating and internet governance can be successfully implemented.” Dr. Henry Huiyao Wang, founder and president of China Center for Globalization (CCG), shared his keynote address highlighting: “Digital economy accounts for 40% of China’s total GDP, so we are at a crucial time to put forward a global acceptable operating standards and regulations…In this aspect, DMA and DSA are setting high standards for all parties.” He emphasized the enormous business cooperation potential between EU and China. “China and EU included the topics of Digital governance on the High-level Environment and Climate Dialogue. What can be anticipated after the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is a greater focus on the economy.” He suggested China and EU could make a step forward and already in November 2023 simultaneously announce to abandon mutual sanctions, thus facilitating the business communities on both sides. He concluded with emphasis on “China needing international exchanges on digital regulations.” EU on the other hand has the advanced legislative process, which China could really learn from. “I would like to see more corporations in that area.” In the expert roundtable session, Dr. Sebastian Hallensleben, Chair of CEN-CENELEC JTC 21, expert advisory board of EU Stand ICT and co-chair of OECD ONE.AI group, shared his opinion on how do DMA and DSA and possibly upcoming AI Act deal with jurisdiction issues. “We still lack the understanding of how does jurisdiction in the physical geographic space maps to the digital space. In the rounds of applicability of the DMA and DSA we are talking about the reach of content blocking.” He argued that China has directly mapped its political geographic sovereignty to the digital space, while EU and the US are not keen on following such path. An approach to resolve the gap could be numerous cases in spectrum use, maritime law or tax system, where overlapping jurisdiction challenges are addressed in multiple ways. Enlightened by standardizing AI ethics, he suggested the issue of acceptability to be tackled on national levels rather than global, due to (limited) eligibility of global standardization. Ms. Mireia Paulo, Head of Management of the Centre for EU-Asia Connectivity (CEAC) and Lecturer/Research Associate at Ruhr-Universität Bochum stated that even though Chinese big tech companies would eventually be identified as gatekeeper, she does not want to exaggerate the impact implications. She supported the reasoning with firstly, “similar tendency for regulating big tech and large online companies in China”. Similar to DMA, China’s Anti-Monopoly Law focuses on competitiveness of digital market, and DSA also offers elements of policy overlap with Chinese online safety regulation. Secondly, “Chinese tech companies are getting used to constant change of domestic regulation and foreign market regulation is within their expectation.” And lastly, as in example of ByteDance “Chinese platforms often have the separate versions for domestic and global markets, (…) making compliance with new EU regulations slightly easier for Chinese stakeholders.” Dr. Maria Adele Carrai, Assistant Professor of Global China Studies at NYU Shanghai, highlighted the potential DMA provides to the Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu with expansion of their EU presence. Nevertheless, “EU still has discretionary the power to investigate companies that do not meet criterial set for the formal definition of gatekeeper. In such way, Chinese companies will be forced to open up in the same way as US companies.” She noted that although current DMA has not given clear consideration on the future of Chinese. She noted that although current DMA has not given clear consideration on the future of Chinese tech firms in European markets, “political consideration, Trans-Atlantic ties, shared democratic and market values, are likely to influence Europe to take further steps in regulating or possibly limiting the expansion of Chinese digital technologies in Europe.” Lastly, she expressed hope for trilateral collaboration between EU, China and the US in developing regulatory framework on big tech. Following the contribution of experts, moderator Mr. Matic Gajsek, Deputy Director of Europe-Asia Center raised a question of whether digital governance can be resolved purely on bilateral level or should there be an aim of trilateral framework, supported by the strong dialogue of technological players. Dr. Henry Huiyao Wang highlighted his D20 (Digital 20) proposal which would create dialogue arena for digital industry, think-tank’s and policy makers. Dr. Andreas Schwab emphasized the need for involvement of broader range of stakeholders, specifically citizens and small enterprises that are to be provided with “basic rights and values legislation.” Dr. Sebastian Hallensleben suggested the creation of new platforms that can secure continuous advancement of discussions on digital policy making. Ms. Mireia Paulo advocated for the constructive role legislative and research working groups can have in such process and raised the concern for possible counter-productive “blocking narratives”, dividing stakeholders into different blocks. Dr. Maria Adele Carrai reiterated the trilateral cooperation between EU, China and US as the best way forward in the creation of a global tech regulation. Full webinar available on the link: https://youtu.be/E0rVqj0aERY For press enquiries: Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center E-mail: m.gajsek(at)europe-asia.org

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