Yesterday (6th, Taipei time), Taichung City Mayor Shiow-yen Lu led a city hall delegation to visit Utrecht in the Netherlands, the hometown of cartoon character Miffy. They met with Mayor Jan van Zanen and signed an MOU on international collaborations. According to Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen, the signing of the MOU marks a new beginning in bilateral relations, and both parties will step up exchanges and cooperation in the field of economy, trade, culture, education, innovation, and smart transportation. Mayor Lu commended Mayor Jan van Zanen for his remarkable achievements in city governance, and these experiences are something that Taichung can learn and benefit from. She also invited him to visit Taichung again.
Mayor Lu met with Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen yesterday to sign an MOU on international collaborations, committing to strengthening exchanges and cooperation in the field of economy, trade, culture, education, innovation, and smart transportation. Representative Hsin-hsin Chen of the Representative Office of Taiwan in the Netherlands was also there to witness the function. After the meeting, Mayor Lu presented Mayor Jan van Zanen with Taichung Park Pavilion wooden lacquerware, who returned the favor with Miffy porcelain ware.
During his speech, Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen first welcomed Mayor Lu and the city hall delegation to the hometown of cartoon character Miffy. He visited Taiwan on 5 separate occasions from 2010 to 2017, therefore there exists a warm and enduring friendship between Taiwan and the Netherlands. The signing of an MOU between Taichung City and Utrecht sets a new milestone in bilateral relations that will reinforce exchanges and collaborations in economy, trade, education, and culture between the 2 cities.
According to Mayor Lu, Utrecht is not only the hometown of Miffy but also one of the most stunning cities in the world. In particular, Mayor Jan van Zanen has demonstrated exceptional city governance in areas such as environmental protection, transport, infrastructure, and culture. These are invaluable experiences that Taichung City can borrow from. Mayor Jan van Zanen is also the most Taiwan-friendly mayor, and local bands from Utrecht have also participated in the Taichung Jazz Festival before, garnering wide popularity among the audience. Mayor Lu is looking forward to his visit to Taiwan again, especially Taichung City.
Mayor Lu pointed out that the purpose of leading a city hall delegation to visit Utrecht is to cement the friendship between the 2 cities and to learn from its successful experiences in energy conservation, carbon reduction, and air pollution control. Utrecht is also the most cycling-friendly city in the Netherlands, featuring the largest bicycle parking lot in Europe. Since Taiwan is very interesting in exchanging experiences in hydraulic engineering, therefore Taichung is keen to become the host city for bilateral hydraulic culture-related exchanges between Taiwan and the Netherlands. Furthermore, the Netherlands also offers the best university education, hence it is hoped that students from both countries will be able to visit each other in order to share their experiences.
Mayor Lu also thanked Representative Hsin-hsin Chen of the Representative Office of Taiwan in the Netherlands for her generous assistance in facilitating the signing of an MOU on international collaboration between Taichung City and Utrecht.
Representative Hsin-hsin Chen of the Representative Office of Taiwan in the Netherlands believes that the Netherlands is an innovative and people-oriented city, therefore it is believed that Mayor Lu will benefit tremendously from this visit.
In addition, since Utrecht perceives great importance in the transformation of the water environment, the delegation also observed the city's water environment governance practices. According to Water Resources Bureau Director-General Shih-i Fan, Taichung City can borrow experience from the Netherlands in areas such as regional drainage, environmental governance, and environmental improvement. The crux to public infrastructure is the subsequent maintenance expenses, something that the city hall aims to keep as low as possible so that the legacy of environmental improvement can be sustainably preserved. For instance, the whale art installation on the Utrecht Canal is sculpted from environmental materials such as recycled plastic bottles and PET bottles, making it an eco-friendly and innovative creation.
The city hall commented that Utrecht has a population of approximately 300,000, making it the 4th largest city in the Netherlands, and it is also a vital transport and economic hub of the country. Utrecht Central is the largest railway station in the Netherlands in terms of passenger numbers, connecting to Belgium and France in the south and Germany in the north and the east. Moreover, the headquarters of Nederlandse Spoorwegen is also located in the city. In 2010 and 2013, Utrecht was voted as the most competitive city in Europe, and it was voted as one of the happiest cities in the world by BBC.
Since Utrecht was founded during the Roman era, it is endowed with a rich historical environment that makes it a city exuberating with art and cultural energy. Many private companies, organizations or foundations are engaged in promotional and creative activities, while diverse art events are held every year. In 2017, Utrecht was selected by UNESCO as a City of Literature. By signing an MOU on international collaborations between the 2 cities, both parties can build on the existing foundation to engage in further exchanges and cooperation in areas such as trade, culture, education, innovation, and smart transportation.