When China becomes the topic of conversation, many people-foreigners especially- converse about Hong-Kong's glorious landscape, how the never-ending skyscrapers merge into the mountainous backdrop, or Shanghai and Beijing's unanimousness in becoming seemingly impenetrable cities full of headquarters and suits, but what about Guangdong?
Guangdong has long been underestimated and misunderstood by the international community but it's slowly coming into its own and rivalling its sister cities. In terms of exports revenue alone the province surpasses itself, but many officials, both domestic and foreign, will agree that more can be done to invite the rest of the world to this beautiful and welcoming city full of opportunities.
Consul General of Poland in Guangzhou Mr. Krzysztof Ciebien
A long acquaintance with Asia
Mr. Krzysztof Ciebien has a Chinese-English Bible in this way he learns Chinese characters
Representing their home-countries and creating country-to-country ties in terms of tourism, culture and business are tasks delegated to Consul-Generals. Krzysztof Ciebien has represented Poland for more than five years, in his penultimate month Krzysztof talks with us in one of his last ever interviews, about life in Guangzhou, the bilateral relations between Guangdong and Poland and culture…
After first coming to China in 1982, being based in Beijing between 1986-1990 and then again in 2005 for a year, acting as deputy to the Polish ambassador, then establishing the first ever Polish consulate in Hong-Kong, acting as deputy ambassador in Bangkok, Krzysztof's acquaintance with Asia is rather long.
"In the last five years, the partnership between many cities in Guangdong and Poland has been growing." – Krzysztof.
Poland-Guangdong trade- "This is the beginning"
Last year, against the backdrop of economic downturn, the trade volume between Guangdong and Poland still exceeded 2.9 billion USD, up to 8,67%, accounting for 1/5 of the total trade volume between Poland and China.
"It does not satisfy me, it's too low, our potential could be bigger. Polish presence in terms of companies and business is still not too big.
This is the beginning." – Krzysztof.
The two nations currently export and import – both ways – food products, textiles and chemicals. One of Krzysztof's aims has been to initiate more communication between businesses and build partnerships. Events such as the second 'China-Poland Regional Forum' that will take place on June 10th, is a potential hub to accommodate exchanges and co-operations. Highlighting its importance as an international trader, Guangzhou will play host to this forum!
"It's a question of trade, investment, cultural exchanges, educational exchanges, scientific co-operation, people-to-people exchanges and tourism; regions know better of what they have and what they can offer.
The decision was made to create such a mechanism of exchanges to let regions know more about each other and create some more possibilities for further co-operation." – Krzysztof
During the forums, representatives from many provinces across China will also attend and use the event to possibly establish contact with other potential partners. Despite initial decisions to hold the forum every two years, due to its importance it will now be held annually.
"The main subjects for this year's forum will be urbanization, ecology, education, tourism and preservation of building." – Krzysztof
Bilateral exchange on education growing
Krzysztof has also succeeded in increasing Guangdong's international educational relations. Guangdong's University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS) has a long and reputable relation with foreign universities, in particular it long running friendship with UK University the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and now with Poland.
"Educational exchanges are growing; the number of students going to Poland, the number of students from Guangdong Province going to Poland are growing.
A number of universities in Poland have bilateral agreements with Guangdong Province, for example, GDUF's…Now with so many different programs like ERASMUS it is (Poland) also attractive to students, they can study in Poland and also visit other countries across Europe…Poland is located in the very heart of Europe." - Krzysztof
Farewell to Guangdong
Mr. Krzysztof Ciebien(right) and his wife Maria(left)
Krzysztof and his wife Maria, also a Polish national, are in agreement of their love for Guangzhou and Guangdong; the food, the people and the atmosphere. After his five year tenure as Consul-General Krzysztof will be leaving the Province shortly after the forum takes place.
"The atmosphere in Guangzhou is much friendlier than, well let's say – other cities! Wherever you go in Guangdong you feel at home, even if it's an official visit and I'm in the car with the flag I usually meet very friendly people".
The city is changing and we will miss it; but after more than five years it's high time to give a chance for other to enjoy Guangzhou and Guangdong." – Krzysztof
Polish food, polish language-courses, Polish cultural events and of course Polish vodka are all available here in Guangzhou. This culture-clash has been widely accepted by locals and the two nations are growing stronger together.
"I would just like to thank you, my Chinese friends in Guangzhou and Guangdong Province, as well as other provinces I am responsible for. Friends from authorities, friends from all the departments of the Government and friends from all circles of life, in particular from culture circles and to my friends in the Consular core.
And I invite all of them and you, to visit Poland." - Krzysztof
(Edited by Sarah Jayne Gregory & Jecey)