„Mönchengladbach has a meaningful Chinese translation – Meng Xing, which means flourishing gateway. The city is worthy of this title. Located in the Lower Rhine area, Mönchengladbach, or MG, is a sort of gateway between Germany and its European neighbors, and also a connection of Europa with China – especially the city of Suqian, my hometown. MG has a flourishing population of around 270,000, and a booming economy with a solid industrial base of machinery manufacturing, electronic technology, textile and garment as well as logistics.
My hometown Suqian is located in the Yangtze river Delta, the most economically dynamic region in China. The city has a total area of 8,555 square kilometers and a population of 5.55 million, with a beautiful natural scenery, a sound ecological environment and prosperous economy. Despite of a distance of more than 8,000 kilometers, Suqian is close to MG, because of its open gateway. I am fortunate enough to cross this gate and have a wonderful internship here. I can not only feel the city’s openness and growth, but also foresee its vast potential for future development.
Starting in February 2018, three of us, who come from different departments of Suqian government, have begun our internship in Mönchengladbach, our business partner city. Our internship opportunities benefit from long-term partnerships between North Rhine-Westphalia and Jiangsu, and they are specifically organized by GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit).
I come from the Administrative Committee of Suqian National Economic and Technological Development Area, which is the largest industrial park in Suqian. My first place of internship is WFMG, Mönchengladbach’s Business Development Corporation. On the day of our arrival, my WFMG colleagues showed us around this beautiful city. The Borussia football club, but also the booming e-commerce and logistics industry, impressed me deeply.
As one of the Bundesliga teams, Borussia enjoys a very good reputation in China. At present, the club is establishing a deeper cooperation with the Suqian government by means of a youth soccer project. I believe that in the future, Suqian’s youth soccer opportunities will develop greatly under Borussia’s guidance.
Football and beer are always closely linked. MG has the local famous beer Bolten – I find it refreshing and “lecker”. In Suqian, there are also two famous beer factories: Qingdao and Budweiser. Furthermore, Suqian has a historic liquor culture. The schnapps Yanghe enjoys a good reputation both in China and abroad. In London, for instance, Yanghe is used for cocktails and has become a way of experiencing Chinese liquor culture for the younger British generation. In the future, Yanghe will widely enter the European markets – possibly through the gateway of MG – so that more people in the EU can taste Chinese liquor and experience Chinese liquor culture.
The development of MG’s logistics industry is quite remarkable. Being close to Düsseldorf, Cologne and the harbors of Belgium and the Netherlands, MG has a natural geographical advantage. A cluster of renowned logistics enterprises such as Deutsche Post DHL, Zalando and others has established itself. By 2019, Amazon will add to the mix. No doubt: MG has taken on a leading role in the development of the e-commerce and logistics industries.
Suqian, located near Shanghai, has also achieved some progress in this field. It is the hometown of Liu Qiangdong, the founder and CEO of JD.com e-commerce, China’s second-largest electric dealer. In Suqian, there is JD National Customer Service Center, one of largest JD Logistics Park in China and an e-commerce park. With the help of JD.com, Suqian is also developing a unique e-commerce economy, creating over 20,000 jobs. Many e-commerce villages are formed, which benefit the local farmers by doing online or related business.
Nonetheless, MG is still firmly rooted in its industrial background. During the internship at WFMG, my colleagues passionately invited me to join the activities of MGconnect. Its team at WFMG wants to drum up young peoples’ enthusiasm for professional life and the necessary preparations for it. In a number of events, students can look into various fields of work and make practical experiences by getting to know different companies and occupational profiles. For instance, I visited the “Engineering Business Days” at SMS Group and Trützschler. These two industrial giants impressed me deeply in the field of engineer training – perhaps this is exactly where one can find the reason why “Made in Germany” enjoys such a great reputation throughout the world. Engineers are treasures of the nation. The training system here also provides a good reference for dual education in Suqian vocational or technician schools.
Because of MGconnect, I also visited the Hochschule Niederrheim, whose textile department and Research Institute for Textile and Clothing are world-renowned. The cooperation of textile enterprises, the textile and clothing department and research institutes provides Mönchengladbach’s textile industry with an outstanding positioning with regard to future development.
The textile and clothing industry is a traditional and important industry in Suqian as well. Suqian has a number of well-known clothing brands. However, because of higher labor costs, Suqian’s textile industry requires an improvement regarding production efficiency as well as more technological innovations. In the future, therefore, Mönchengladbach and Suqian can explore cooperation in the fields of production, equipment renewal, industrial research and applications.
Another thing I found out it that MG has a lot of beautiful architecture. The “passive houses” here combine elegance and energy saving. The most impressive architecture for me was Minto. Without exaggeration, it is the best shopping mall I have visited in NRW. I find it attractive not only because of its streamlined design and its clever integration of previously existing buildings, but also because of its convenience for shopping and entertainment. In addition, the concept of the “Healthy Building”, a new project WFMG has embarked on, is very interesting. It involves a sustainable architectural concept with more energy saving and generating.
Besides beautiful architecture and landscapes, the local culture fascinates me a lot. The most distinctive one was the Veilchendienstagszug – showcasing the ancient carnival custom and the unchanging cultural heritage of the city. In February, we participated in the local carnival celebrations. With funny parades and countless candy and chocolate, the happy atmosphere infected everyone present. Mönchengladbach’s carnival will be one of the best memories of my life. By the way: The efficiency of street cleaning following the VDZ is quite admirable.
The internship at WFMG has come to an end, and I will move on to Zeichensaele. This was my first working experience in Germany with German colleagues. WFMG warmly provided me many chances to participate in a number of projects, meetings and activities which broaden my horizons and from which I can benefit a lot. I liked their high efficiency and their open working atmosphere very much. Most importantly, everyone here is very kind and sincere, which touched me greatly. I sincerely thank everyone for my great internship at WFMG. Und herzlich willkommen nach Suqian! Because I sincerely hope that in the future, the cities of Mönchengladbach and Suqian will work hand in hand and open the gate of cooperation and prosperity together!“