This week, Mr Chen Jining, the mayor of Beijing, will visit Helsinki. The visit is set to deepen Helsinki’s cooperation with one of the most important world cities. As they meet, mayors Jan Vapaavuori and Chen Jining will sign a four-year intercity cooperation agreement, whose themes stretch from city planning to environmental conservation and cooperation in the field of innovation.
Mayor Chen is the leader of the world’s largest capital city by population. Cooperation with Beijing, a city of 21 million people, is a key theme in Helsinki's international strategy. Nurturing a close relationship between the cities opens up opportunities not only for developing Helsinki’s own operations, but also for exporting Finnish expertise to China.
“The importance of international city-level cooperation is constantly growing. We have been determined in our efforts to develop our relationship with Beijing. Cooperation in areas such as tourism, education and cultural exchange has been intense in recent years. Now, we want to strengthen our partnership with one of the leading world cities further. Together we are able to find solutions to global challenges that cities are faced with, such as better measurement of air quality or the use of digitalisation in urban development”, Mayor Vapaavuori asserts.
The number of Chinese tourists coming to Helsinki has doubled in a short space of time. Helsinki wants to tap into the growing interest to visit here and to be a pioneer in developing services for Chinese travellers. The basis for the close relationship between Helsinki and China has been built by Finnair's strong Asia strategy, as a result of which there are currently around 50 direct flights per week from Helsinki to China.
One of the most visible elements of this cooperation is the Chinese New Year’s celebration, which since 2007 has been observed in Helsinki’s city centre. Last year, the event was expanded with a business-oriented parallel programme.
Mayor Chen will hear about cutting-edge research in information technology, artificial intelligence, air quality and 5G technology during a visit at the University of Helsinki. New learning environments and digital learning tools will be introduced to the Beijing delegation at a Helsinki comprehensive school. The programme also includes visits to Helen Ltd.'s underground heat pump plant, cultural sites in Helsinki and local companies.
The visit will culminate in a dinner hosted by Mayor Vapaavuori, which will include not only the top management of the cities but also leaders from Finnish business and cultural life.