AIRS DE PARIS

Creativity and Culture

Rouen and Ningbo: a happy twinning

 

鲁昂和宁波

Rouen  and  Ningbo

 

Since the mid-1980s, the city of Rouen has been twinned with the city of Ningbo, located in the northeast of China’s Zhejiang province.

Rouen is a commune in north-western France through which the Seine flows. Ningbo is a port city that was traditionally the starting point of the Silk Road. On these two sides of the world, how did these two cities manage to link up?

The story is little known to the general public, yet it’s true!

How, almost forty years ago, did Vincent Lemarchand manage to become one of the pillars of development and friendship between the two cities? As President of the Rouen-Ningbo Committee, he tells us about his experience and his vision of China…

 

从20世纪 80 年代中期以来,法国的鲁昂市就一直与中国的宁波市结为友好城市。

但是鲁昂是法国西北部的一个城市,塞纳河穿城而过;而宁波则是浙江省一座港口城市,历来是丝绸之路的起点。

分别在世界的两端,这两座城市是如何联系在一起的呢?

这个故事鲜为人知,但却是真实而且独一无二!

将近四十年前,文森特-勒马尔尚在两座城市发展和友谊中起着重要的作用,作为鲁昂 – 宁波委员会主席,他向我们讲述了他的中国故事……

 

 

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Tell us, Vincent Lemarchand, how this wonderful adventure came about?

 

In 1983, I discovered China at the Rouen International Fair, as it was the guest of honor. At the time, I was working in the international department of the Chamber of Commerce. The President of the Chamber wanted to twin the city with a Chinese town. He put the question to the director of the delegation, who headed up the Chinese Pavilion. There were several conditions, however: the Chinese city had to be a regional capital, have a long history and possess a seaport. After several months, the delegation director proposed Ningbo.

Rouen, of course, like all French cities, had a small Chinese community. But these were often overseas Chinese or people from Wenzhou. This population movement took place mainly during the two world wars. However, there were very few Chinese from the interior of the country. This was something very new for us, and for them too. The French have preconceived ideas about the Chinese, just as they have about us! With the President of the Chamber of Commerce, who was also President of the French flour milling industry, we immediately wanted to go there to get to know them better. We came back delighted!

In 1986, at the invitation of the city of Ningbo, the first official document was drawn up. Needless to say, in those years, nothing was easy, especially not roads or means of transport! It took us two days to get to this untouched city. It was then that a first agreement was signed between our two towns.

In 1990, during an official trip to China by the Mayor of Rouen, Jean Lecanuet, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, the document formalizing the twinning of the two cities was signed in the presence of a large delegation from Rouen.

From this point onwards, our exchanges have multiplied in all fields: education, economy, health, culture, sports and city management. The recruitment by the Foreign Affairs office of a French-speaking manager (whom we welcomed for several weeks to introduce him to the various organizations wishing to collaborate with Ningbo) was an important step in our relations.

Even today, we continue to call on his skills to carry out our projects. In 2010, I was lucky enough to receive the title of Honorary Citizen from the Municipality of Ningbo, and I’m proud of it! The work we’ve done to bring the two cities closer together remains, but above all, the friendship between the two countries remains… which is why I’ve continued my work.

 

您能分享您与中国宁波的友谊是如何开始的吗?

 

一切都是从1983年鲁昂国际贸易博览会上开始的,因为当时中国是博览会的主宾国,而我正在鲁昂商会国际部工作。商会会长想让鲁昂与一个中国城市结成友好城市。他向负责中国馆的代表团团长询问了这个问题,但有几个条件:这个中国城市必须是地区性重要的城市,历史悠久,而且有海港。几个月后,代表团团长回复了并且推荐了宁波。

当然,与所有法国城市一样,鲁昂也有一个小规模的传统华人社区。但通常是东南亚华侨或者温州人,他们主要在两次世界大战期间来到了鲁昂。然而,真正来自中国大陆的华人却很少。

这个机会对我们来说是件非常新鲜的事情,对宁波应当来说也是如此。法国人对中国人有一定的成见,就像中国人对我们一样!商会会长同时也是法国面粉加工业联盟的主席,对中国很感兴趣,我们非常想很快就去中国更好地了解宁波。

1986年,应宁波市的邀请,我们起草了第一份正式文件。不言而喻,在那个年代,一切都不容易,尤其是道路和交通工具!我们花了两天时间才来到这座人迹罕至的城市。就在此时,我们两座城市签署了第一份协议。1990 年,鲁昂市长、参议院外交事务委员会主席让-勒卡努埃(Jean Lecanuet)对中国进行正式访问期间,在鲁昂代表团的见证下,终于签署了两市结为友好城市的正式文件。

从那时起,我们在教育、经济、卫生、文化、体育和城市管理等各个领域的交流日益频繁。宁波外事办公室聘用了一名讲法语的中国官员,他在鲁昂呆了数周,我们向他介绍期待与宁波合作的各机构,这是我们关系进展中的重要一步。时至今日,我们仍然通过他的双语沟通能力,顺畅地开展我们的项目合作。

2010年,我有幸被宁波市授予荣誉市民称号,对此我深感自豪!我们一直在为两座城市之间的各方面合作继续努力,对于我们最重要的是,两国之间的友谊能够继续发展和传递,这也是我不断努力的原因。

 

Rouen et Ningbo 6c

 

 

Do you think Ningbo has changed in forty years?

 

To me, the change is extraordinary! This ancient city was little-known, but its port was one of the biggest in China, and already widely open to the outside world. A large number of contacts were made with other countries. It’s worth noting that in Shanghai, there were also a good number of Ningbo-born business people trading abroad.

As soon as China opened up, entrepreneurs lost no time in starting up their businesses. Ningbo underwent incredible development. The population doubled. The port is now the world’s leading port in terms of traffic!

 

您认为宁波四十年来的变化大吗?

 

在我看来,变化非常大!虽然这座古老的中国城市在法国鲜为人知,但它的港口是中国最大的港口之一,而且是一个对世界开放的城市,与其他国家建立了大量的合作关系。在上海的商界里,有不少宁波人与其他国家进行贸易往来。

其实中国改革开放后,宁波的企业家们就开始创业。宁波经历了惊人的发展,人口翻了一番,宁波港现在是世界上运输量最大的港口!

 

Rouen et Ningbo 4b

 

 

Do you think the Chinese have changed too?

 

Initially, it seemed to us that the Chinese were rather closed-minded. Perhaps they were uncomfortable with foreigners? But very quickly, they adapted to our French culture and traditions. I was surprised to find that many of them already knew France from studying and observing it. The Chinese are very open-minded. Today, they’re perfectly at ease abroad, and I find that interesting.

 

您认为中国人也改变了吗?

 

最初,在我们看来,中国人的思想相当封闭。也许他们不习惯外国人。但他们很快就适应了我们的文化和法国的传统。

我惊讶地发现,他们中的许多人已经通过学习和观察了解了法国。中国人的思想非常开放。如今,他们在国外非常自如,我觉得这很有趣

 

Rouen et Ningbo 3

 

 

What is your personal view of China?

 

Like many French people, I had ready-made images of an ancient China. What interests me most today is to see how it has evolved in a very short space of time. In thirty years, development has been considerable. When I arrived, there were hardly any cars in China. There were only official cars and trucks. The Chinese rode bicycles.

Now the bicycle has all but disappeared! This shows an astonishing ability to adapt to the modern world. So my vision of China is above all its speed of adaptation. Do we have this capacity in France? I wonder. We still have a lot of reservations…

The Chinese don’t! For them, nothing is impossible. For example, at the start of the project, officials from the city of Ningbo gave us figures and targets to aim for. I don’t remember thinking they’d be so quick to implement their ideas and projects. In fact, the results were even greater than they had announced!

The Chinese are optimistic and confident about their future. They want to change things, and they know they will. Many believe that “tomorrow will be better than yesterday”. I find this vision very encouraging, especially if you’re in China. Do the rather pessimistic French see their future in this way? That’s one difference between our peoples.

 

您个人如何看待中国?

 

和许多法国人一样,我对中国的印象也是基于很久以前对中国的描述。如今我最感兴趣的是看到在三十多年间,中国有了翻天覆地的发展。我刚来的时候,中国几乎没有汽车,只有公务用车和卡车,而且中国人都骑自行车。

现在自行车几乎消失了!这显示了中国适应现代世界的惊人能力。

因此我对中国的惊讶首先是它的快速适应力。我们法国人有这种能力吗?其实我们对变化常常还有很多迟疑。

但是中国人没有!对他们来说,没有什么是不可能的。例如,常常在项目开始时,宁波市的官员会给我们展示他们的目标。但是我从沒有想象过他们会如此迅速地实施他们的想法。事实上,结果比他们设象的目录还要好!

中国人很乐观,对未来充满信心。他们希望改变现状,也知道自己一定会成功。许多人相信”明天会比昨天更好”。我觉得这种愿景非常鼓舞人心,尤其是当你身在中国。而经常容易悲观的法国人能这样看待自己的未来的吗?这是我们两国人民之间的一个区别。

 

 

Rouen et Ningbo 8

 

 

Do you think there’s any understanding between France and China?

 

My idea was to combat these old-fashioned clichés. The Chinese love France deeply and find it romantic. It’s not for nothing that many of them come to Paris to get married and have their photos taken at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Like them, I believe in dreaming, so I try to show that there are great opportunities for development here, and that we can achieve a lot together. Our high-tech industries are very interesting for them. On the other hand, it’s also about making the French understand that China is a country with good ideas that are open to the world.

My experience with the Chinese is rich in this respect. Initially, we worked on the economic front, then moved on to the education sector. We’ve also done a lot of work in the hospital sector. There was an exchange between Chinese and French doctors. Proud of our success, we continued with lawyers, then turned our attention to the cultural world.

We like to highlight our diversity. We can get closer together and exchange ideas without getting political. The French and the Chinese have certain things in common: a long history, a great culture and a rich gastronomy.

The year 2024 will be marked by the sixtieth anniversary of France’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China. This should be an opportunity to recall the importance of France’ s friendly relations with China. Nevertheless, we need to continue our efforts to raise awareness of Chinese realities among the French, and of French realities among the Chinese.

The cliché of France as a “romantic country” should not obscure the fact that we are also a country of economic and cultural innovation. Reducing China to “a workshop producing large quantities of cheap products” is an approach that obscures the great richness of Chinese culture.

The many young Chinese who have chosen to pursue their studies in France confirm the quality of our universities, so it would be desirable for French students to show the same interest in China, which also boasts prestigious universities. These important exchanges should contribute to fruitful future cooperation.

As far as Rouen and Ningbo are concerned, we are continuing our exchanges in all fields after a three-year hiatus due to the health crisis. We are delighted to note that travel has resumed in recent months, and we have recently welcomed three delegations from Ningbo. I’ll be going there in September to relaunch a number of pending projects. Our ties should grow even stronger in the coming months.

 

 

Rouen et Ningbo 9

 

 

您认为法国和中国之间能相互理解吗?

 

我一直的想法是改变这些中法之间一些过时的偏见误解。中国人喜欢法国,觉得法国很浪漫。许多中国人来到巴黎结婚,并在埃菲尔铁塔脚下拍照留念,这不是没有道理的。

但法国也有科技,和中国人一样,我也相信梦想,所以我努力向他们展示,法国这里也有巨大的发展机遇,我们可以共同取得巨大成就。我们的高科技产业让他们非常感兴趣。另一方面,我也希望让法国人理解,中国是一个拥有好想法、向世界开放的国家。

在这方面,我与中国人有很多合作经验。起初,我们在经济领域开展工作,后来又转向教育领域。我们还在医院领域开展了大量工作,邦助中法医生之间进行了交流。我们为自己的努力感到自豪,我们继续从事律师工作的合作,同时也将注意力转向文化领域,发展合作的多样性。

我们可以在不涉及政治的情况下拉近距离,交流思想。法国和中国有很多共同点:悠久的历史、伟大的文化和丰富的美食。

2024 年是法国和中华人民共和国 建交60 周年。我们应该借此机会回顾法国与中国建立的友好关系的。  我们需要继续努力,提高法国人对中国真实的认识,以及中国人对法国真实的认识。

法国是一个”浪漫之国 “的陈词滥调不应掩盖我们在经济和文化领域也是一个创新型国家的事实。 将中国简化为 “一个生产大量廉价产品的作坊 “的看法掩盖了中国文化的巨大丰富性和创造性。

许多中国年轻人选择到法国留学,证明了我们大学的质量,因此,法国学生也应该对同样拥有著名大学的中国提高兴趣。这些重要的交流活动应有助于未来合作取得丰硕成果。

就鲁昂和宁波而言,因疫情危机而中断三年之后,我们将继续开展各领域的交流。我们很高兴地看到,在过去的几个月里,双方恢复了互访,我们最近还接待了来自宁波的三个代表团。我也将于 9 月前往宁波,重新启动一些新的项目。在未来的几个月里,我们的联系将更加紧密。

 

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