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Sino-German ties touted via soccer

By Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao, Shandong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-17 08:13

A delegation of 15 mayors from German towns and cities played two soccer matches with local teams in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Wednesday and Thursday.

The matches were held at the Sino-German Ecopark, which has world-class soccer facilities and is where Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich established its first soccer school in China.

The delegation members are part of the German National Soccer Team of Mayors.

"The team has played several games in Europe, South America and Israel, and aims to take advantage of soccer games to make friends and establish friendly relations all over the world," said Joachim Schuster, one of the delegation and mayor of Neuenburg am Rhein, a town in southern Germany.

However, the German officials were not in Qingdao to show off their soccer talent. They were seeking to develop economic and cultural ties in China.

The delegation arrived on Tuesday and said they felt at home at the ecopark, as it shares similar development concepts with German cities, especially relating to green development.

"We hope the Sino-German Ecopark can serve as a platform to further promote Sino-German cooperative relations and help German companies to tap market potential in China," Schuster said.

Construction of the Sino-German Ecopark began in July 2013 and it has become an ideal place for attracting German investment.

To date, Fortune Global 500 companies such as Siemens, Airbus Helicopters, Continental AG and Bombardier have signed cooperative agreements with the park or had built factories there.

Rolf Reinhard, mayor of Abtsteinach, a city in central Germany, said his city has a company that produces 70 percent of the world's artificial turf and he hopes the product can access the Chinese market through the Sino-German Ecopark.

Reinhard emphasized win-win cooperation, adding that he hopes more Chinese commodities can establish a presence in the German market through exchanges.

Klaus Schlappner, the first foreign coach to manage the Chinese men's national soccer team, led the delegation. He is the counselor of the Sino-German Ecopark and has witnessed its rapid development.

"The park combines Chinese efficiency and German quality, and sets a good example for Sino-German cooperation," said Schlappner.

To date, more than 8,200 German enterprises have investments in China, more than any other European country.

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