The “Beijing and Seoul’s Future: Sharing and Cooperation” Symposium

On April 23, 2013,in celebration of “The 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of Beijing-Seoul’s Sister Cities Relationship — Beijing and Seoul’s future: Sharing and cooperation” symposium was held in the Reception Hall of the Main Building at Tsinghua University. The meeting was co-sponsored by the School of Social Sciences of Tsinghua University, Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning & Design, and Seoul Institute. Honorary professor Han Sang-Jin from Seoul National University was invited to be the keynote speaker; and over 100 scholars and government officials from both cities attended the meeting.

At the opening ceremony, the mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government Park Won-Soon, the vice party secretary of Tsinghua University Deng Wei, the Dean of Seoul Institute Lee Chang-Hyun, and the president of Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning & Design Shi Weiliang delivered welcoming speeches respectively. Mayor Park Won-soon said, “People of the 21st century should uphold the value and belief of ‘stick together through thick and thin’, which will also be accomplished through the practical communication between Beijing and Seoul. The meeting will explore the challenges faced on both sides and create plans for the bright future of the two cities through research. It will be a win-win cooperation.” Vice party secretary Deng Wei pointed out that during the process of modernization, Beijing and Seoul could learn from each other based on mutual development, and they could create more development opportunities as a global village member based on respectful and peaceful principles. 

Following, professor Li Qiang, Dean of the School of Social Sciences of Tsinghua University, and honorary professor Han Sang-Jin from Seoul National University delivered the keynote speeches “Comparison of city management between China and South Korea and the prospects for the future strategic cooperation” and “The development of the strategic partnership between Seoul and Beijing” respectively.

Professor Li Qiang mentioned that in the process of rapid development, Beijing and Seoul are facing many social problems; such as environmental pollution, resource shortages, traffic congestion, and so on. Therefore, it is the common goal of both cities to improve the city management level and strengthen the crisis response capacity. Currently, Beijing aims at building itself into a world city, but there are still many problems such as the extensive mode of development, vulnerability details, and so on. It is necessary to promote the delicacy management level, to improve the city infrastructure, the management skills of the manager, and the citizens’ participation in development. The study shows that Beijing citizens believe the environment and health related risks, food safety incidents, environmental pollution, and adult diseases are more harmful, and have a higher probability of occurrence. However, the Seoul citizens are more concerned about moral corruption, vicious crime, the widening gap between the rich and poor, and other social risks. As for the city management, citizens of both cities tend to like the city with more public participation in policymaking, more cultural characteristics of East Asia, and more humanistic care. Moreover, the majority of people agree that East Asian cities should establish their own development models instead of imitating the West.

Professor Han Sang-Jin pointed out that South Korea and China achieved remarkable economic growth over the past decades, but at the same time, many social problems were generated. The citizens expect the government to be more responsible for the public safety and welfare. The study shows that the higher the trust in the government, the higher the citizens’ satisfaction with the governmental services. Comparatively speaking, Beijing citizens’ trust in government is higher than Seoul citizens’, which is an advantage for Beijing’s development. In addition, the role of family has become less important in modern society. According to the survey data, this trend in Seoul is getting more serious than in Beijing. Therefore, we should carry on the family-oriented traditions of East Asia, and promote the harmonious development of both individuals and families. At last, Professor Han concluded that the East Asian countries have achieved rapid economic development during the first modernization process, but the public participation, family bonds and other factors will play an important role in the second modernization process.

During the panel discussions, the experts and scholars from Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning & Design and Seoul Institute had heated discussions on topics like city planning and management, protection of historical and cultural heritages, public transportation, city’s infrastructure, and so on.

The conference was highly valued by experts and scholars. This symposium is an important achievement conducted by the School of Social Sciences, which has provided an excellent communication platform for Beijing and Seoul to share experiences and learn from each other. It is important for Beijing to build a world city and explore the unique development model of East Asia.