Following that the municipalities of Essen, Berlin and Oldenburg were interviewed concerning cooperation with their Chinese partner municipalities. The partnership between Essen and Changzhou was signed and sealed officially in 2015. It forms part of the China-EU Urbanisation Partnership, and was co-initiated by the regional partnership between Jiangsu – and North Rhine-Westphalia. Businesses in Essen, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the municipal structures to promote the local economy play an important role in shaping the activities. 'Well, although we've had a municipal partnership in name since 2015, unfortunately we haven't yet succeeded in turning it into what it's supposed to be all about – exchange between people in the form of school exchange schemes, professional exchange, and exchange in the arts and culture', said Michael Theisen of the City of Essen. However, the partners have since succeeded in agreeing to step up cooperation in the field of geriatrics.
Oldenburg has partnerships with Qingdao and Xian. The municipality hopes to sign an official partnership agreement with Xian in the near future, explained Yu Wang of the City of Oldenburg. She went on to say that through the links that arose via a trilateral agreement with the Dutch city of Groningen, a vibrant partnership had arisen involving school exchange visits, close liaison with the Confucius Institute in Bremen and plans to make Chinese an A-level subject in Oldenburg's schools. In Qingdao, Oldenburg has even opened a representation, which means that liaison is very close and regular. The areas of work, she explained, are also very diverse, ranging from building links between German businesses and institutions in the Weser-Ems region and actors in Qingdao, to activities in the field of geriatric care, including the training of Chinese pupils in geriatric nursing. Furthermore, this year there will also be an ASA-Kommunal project with Qingdao involving e-learning.
Relations between Berlin and Beijing have existed since 1994. As Petra Schwarz of the Senate Chancellery explained, a broad range of stakeholders are involved in the partnership: alongside the Senate Chancellery these include the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, universities, specific districts of Berlin, associations and private individuals. One special feature of the relationship between Berlin and Beijing is exchange in the legal field. This includes for instance training for notaries and exchange between the Senate Chancellery and the High People's Court in Beijing. One of the topics discussed in this context is anti-corruption. As Petra Schwarz explained, this exchange has been formalised through Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), and functions with a high degree of autonomy. Other thematic areas that play an important role in cooperation are Smart Cities, Industry 4.0, urban development, the arts and culture. In 2014, for instance, the partner cities marked the 20-year jubilee of their relations by launching an exhibition of contemporary art entitled 'The 8 paths'. A long-term artist exchange scheme and a scholarship holders' scheme are planned.