Delta Bridges took the opportunity to catch up with Mrs. Marjo Crompvoets, Consul-General for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Guangzhou. The consulate was hosting an event focused on the launch of TNO’s Material Flow Monitoring and Analysing Platform in Zhuhai’s Gaolan Port Economic Development Zone – a part of the Green Industrial Park Project Collaboration.
Mrs. Crompvoets discussed the changing relationship between South China and the Netherlands, as well as the shift in focus to environmental and cultural initiatives. She also talked about her personal history with the city of Guangzhou.
DB: 您作为荷兰王国驻广州总领事馆总领事已经两年了，您认为荷兰和华南的关系在不断成长吗？You’ve been the Consul-General here for over two years now, do you think the relationship between the Netherlands and South China is growing?
Certainly it’s growing, and I think in a way you could say that the relationship is deepening. I’m mainly talking about the issues that we are dealing with. In the past it was trading, bringing the things that were manufactured in this region to Europe. We as the Netherlands cannot be of use in China any more in regards to how to manufacture things in a smart way, because in that sense this region is developing very fast. But when it comes to management, how to set up good asset management, responsible investment, these kinds of things, we can. At the same time we do business, but make sure the environment, the society we live in, is also making progress.
DB: 您认为最近在中荷关系中对于环保措施有更多的关注吗？Do you think there’s been more of a focus on environmental initiatives lately in Sino-Dutch relations?
For the Netherlands, we have already had that focus for a long time because we have been densely populated for as long as I know. In such a small area it was something we had to cope with from the beginning. We have gone through the same developments, we had coal mines until the forties or fifties of last century. Then we changed from the coal mines to different industries like chemical industries. When you want to have such industries co-exist in the same area you have a city, then of course you have to make sure that you do these things in the right way. With the growing middle class in China you can see that people pay a lot more attention to the environment they are living in, and to creating a good living environment for their kids.
DB: 您第一次到广州的时候，您还是一个学生。和那时候相比，这座城市的变化大吗？You first visited Guangzhou when you were a student. Has the city changed between now and then?
Tremendously! When I arrived for the first time in Guangzhou I remember that the biggest building was the White Swan Hotel. It was a landmark in the city. I think the White Swan Hotel is still a landmark but compared to some other buildings it’s tiny. I like that side of Guangzhou very much. You can see the enormous pace with which this province is developing. It’s a lovely city to walk through, and my favourite pastime is walking along the river.
DB: 目前，领事馆还在筹备什么其他的计划和活动吗？What are some other major initiatives or events that the consulate is involved in at the moment?
We are having several big exhibitions and events in Shenzhen in the field of design this month. For instance, the Design Society, the Shenzhen Urbanism/Architecture Biennale, and we also have a special exhibition at the OCT Art and Design Gallery with Dutch food designer Marije Volgezang. In the creative industry of this region the Dutch are deeply involved. On the cultural side, we have several Dutch documentary films showcasing at the GZDOC festival, and later we are going to have a big exhibition in the Guangdong Provincial Museum. It’s from a well-known Dutch artist, Armando. It is expected to open in May.
DB: 您认为现在中国和荷兰的文化纽带增多了吗？Do you think there are more cultural ties between China and the Netherlands now?
Yes, there surely are, but so much is happening sometimes we are not even aware of it. In the last two years, I have seen plenty of cultural activities and exchanges between the Netherlands and this region in a variety of fields such as design, fashion, music, dance, photography etc. You name it! We as a consulate will continue to try all we can do to strengthen the mutual exchange and cooperation by combining or bringing artworks created by Dutch artists and Chinese artists, so as to generate an even stronger dialogue and interaction. Shared history between the Netherlands and this region is also a topic that a lot of attention paid to. For example, research has been done on the paintings in the 18th Century that were made in China by ships that started their journey from here (Guangdong) to the Netherlands and the west in general. There is a fantastic exhibition now in the Netherlands showing in a museum that has wallpapers that were actually directly imported from China two-hundred years ago. It is a collaboration between the Museum of Amelisweerd (MOA) in the province of Utrecht and Guangdong Provincial Museum.
I see a strong focus on design in this region, especially industrial and product design. We have another Dutch organisation that is doing research in the Pearl River Delta on the effects of automation – the increasing number of robots – and the effect it has on architecture. How do we adapt our buildings to the fact that in the future we will only have factories with robots? That’s also closely related to art, I would say. It’s extremely varied and interesting, and it also shows the vibrancy of this region.