Q: What are the differences between the Guangdong you read on your newspapers and books and the real Guangdong you see here?
Frank Smeets: It is much bigger, more enormous than you imagine. If you read something in books but don’t see by your own eyes, you won’t understand how big it is! The buildings, the lights and what we saw on the boat trip (Pearl River Night Cruise) are all amazing. You can see so much energy here. I think I can bring so many stories back to Belgium. It is a story about how professional here it is, how nice the people are, how friendly they are to Belgium.
Q: It seems that the two sides have frequent exchanges and visits. Would you love to tell us why you are so interested in Guangdong Province?
Jean-Paul Peuskens: We hope that we can exchange experience on the sides of economic and education. We have signed an agreement between the two universities (Guangdong University of Technology and Hasselt University). In the future they will exchange students. Students from Belgium could visit for a long time to the Guangdong University of Technology and the students of Guangdong will also come to Limburg.
Q: What advantages of Guangdong attract you and what Limburg can offer to Guangdong Province?
Frank Smeets: Guangdong is a big province with big cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen. It has developed very much. Our region Limburg is the 'center heart' of Europe. For the companies in Guangdong who want to invest in Europe, their best choice is Limburg because we are closed to either Brussels, Netherland or Germany.
We have a lot of innovating companies in Limburg, the same like what happen here in Guangdong which are digging from the minds to develop an innovative economic. In Belgium, we have very good labor forces who want to work. We have a lot of possibilities to invest. We have a lot of space. We are very reachable no matter by water, air, road or rail. If you want to come to Europe, Limburg is a dream position for you.
Q：What kind of projects has been signed or discussed during this trip?
Frank Smeets: We have signed an agreement between two offices of communication (Guangdong Information Office and Limburg Communication Department). Communication is really important for both of our two provinces. The habitants from the two regions will know each other (based on good communication). With good communication, people of Guangdong can learn the way of life in Limburg and vice versa.
There is also an agreement between two universities of tourism (Guangdong Tourism Institute and Hotel School Hasselt) and there is an agreement between two universities (Guangdong University of Technology and Hasselt University). (In conclusion, the agreements are) mainly about communication, tourism and education.
Q: What about the future prospects of cooperation between Guangdong and Limburg? What areas or focuses of the future collaboration?
Frank Smeets: (All of) the agreements have to be executed. Concrete projects have to born and next year we will come back for other initiatives. Two months ago there was a delegation coming to Guangdong from our province and maybe in the next year there will be also a delegation from Guangdong that come to our province.