Video and Summary of the ISDP Forum “Sino-Nordic Relations: Opportunities and the Way Ahead”

On November 11, 2016, the Institute for Security and Development Policy organized a forum on Sino-Nordic Relations: Opportunities and the Way Ahead. The event aimed to discuss ways for China and the Nordic countries to improve cooperation and explore new possibilities.

The event started with a keynote speech by H.E. Ambassador Chen Yuming, Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary of the People’s Republic of China to Sweden. According to Ambassador Yuming, Sino-Nordic cooperation has been profound in the past years with many high-level visits done between China and the Nordic countries. Bilateral relations in the form of economic and trade collaboration have also continuously been strengthened, as China is the number one trading partner according to the Statistics of the Nordic Council.

h-e-ambassador-chen-yumingIn the field of environment, the Nordic’s low-carbon development model could be a sustainable model for China. In addition, cooperation in the area of anti-corruption, social security and an ageing society could be expanded to further improve social governance. Ambassador Yuming emphasized how each country can not only participate, but also collaborate with each other.

Panel 1: The State of Sino-Nordic Relations

The first panel of the seminar on Sino-Nordic relations covered the features of the multilateral relationship between China and the states of the Nordic region. It was moderated by Niklas Swanström, Executive Director of ISDP. In a question and answer format the speakers elaborated on trends and policy implications of Sino-Nordic collaboration.

The discussion was kicked off by Mats Hellström, formerly Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Trade, European and Nordic Affairs, as well Ambassador to Germany, and County Governor of Stockholm. Mr. Hellström spoke on the various areas in which China and the states of the Nordic Council have worked together including research & development, green technology and the Arctic issue, as well as emphasizing the great potential for developing the market for Scandinavian-produced goods.

The second speaker, Hans Jørgen Gåsemyr, postdoctoral fellow and advisor on China-related issues at the University of Bergen, touched on areas in which Chinese authorities are attempting to learn from the example of Nordic society. Looking especially at the areas of environmental, arctic and welfare policies, Mr. Gåsemyr stressed that due to demographic changes China will increasingly seek to emulate the achievements of Nordic policy priorities, while at the same time the Nordic states can learn from Chinese initiative.

kristina_sandklefKristina Sandklef, founder of Sandklef Asia Insights, and the Sino-Swedish recruitment site ‘Kinapoolen,’ then turned the discussion to the issues of transformation within the Chinese economy. Key to this is the shift away from a focus on export toward an increasingly robust service and consumption industry. Ms. Sandklef also addressed the acquisition of Nordic companies by Chinese firms in the context of strategic attempts to gain access to new technology and know-how.

Watch a video of the keynote speech and Panel 1 discussion here.

Panel 2: Exploring common ground

sangsoo_leeThe second panel was moderated by Sangsoo Lee, Head of ISDP’s Stockholm China Center. The discussion focused on environment, gender equality and trade as specific key areas for Sino-Nordic cooperation.

The first speaker, Guoyi Han, Research Fellow and theme co-leader for Managing Environmental Systems at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), talked about the environmental development challenges in China and how the Nordic countries could contribute. The big clean-up, which is one of China’s ongoing priorities, is an opportunity for the Nordic countries to share experience and technology with China. Mr. Han emphasized the importance of collaboration and mutual learning between the two regions.

Cecilia Nathansen Milwertz, Associate Professor and Senior Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), agreed on the concept of mutual learning. The Nordic’s success in gender equality as well as China’s progress in this area for the past two years is attributed to the discussion between government and civil society. Ms. Milwertz argued that both regions could learn from each other on how to engage with civil society.

Nis Høyrup Christensen, Assistant Professor at Copenhagen Business School, explored China-Denmark Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which covers clean energy, environment, and research and education. Mr. Christensen argued that the presence of a Ministry of Business and Growth in Denmark contributed significantly to the country’s trade with China. As the policies were decided in Brussels, the ministry could focus on trade promotion.

Watch a video of Panel 2 discussion here.

ISDP would like to thank the expert panelists, as well as the audience for their participation in what was an enlightening discussion on a topic of high significance.

For more information, find the “Sino-Nordic Relations: Opportunities and the Way Ahead” paper here. Chinese version available here.