Chinalux president Dirk Dewitte, pictured, says the chamber of commerce will celebrate its fifth anniversary during the year of the dog
President of Chinalux Dirk Dewitte talks about 5 years of strengthening Chinese-Luxembourg relations, and explains why cleaning your home is avoided by some after the start of the Chinese new year on 16 February.
Jess Bauldry: The population of Chinese nationals in Luxembourg has more than doubled from 2010 to 2017 to reach 3,222 (more than the total US nationals). What do you think is the driving force behind this growth?
Dirk Dewitte: The increase in Chinese nationals in Luxembourg that we have witnessed in recent years has taken place within the context of a growing national population. In the last decade alone, the Luxembourg population has risen by nearly 20%, and according to Eurostat estimates suggest it will reach one million by 2062. Furthermore, Luxembourg is often referred to as an “immigration hub” due to its foreign residents accounting for just shy of 48% of the population, which is the highest percentage of foreign residents of the OECD countries.
There are many “push” and “pull” factors when understanding migration trends, and as such it is quite difficult to pin-point exactly which driving force(s) are at play. Nevertheless, what can be said is that Luxembourg makes a very strong case in terms of “pull” factors for foreign nationals, Chinese nationals included. Given Luxembourg is a multinational, multilingual country, with a stable economic, social and political environment, as well as an open business and employment market, it is no surprise we are seeing such developments. For Chinese nationals in particular, this attractive and welcoming setting, alongside having seven Chinese banks and an increasing number of Chinese-led activities and businesses in Luxembourg, there are numerous “pull” factors that could be identified as the driving force behind this trend.
What is the year of the dog and why should people avoid cleaning clothes, using scissors and sweeping floors?
The year of the dog is one of the twelve Chinese zodiac years, where each year of the twelve-year cycle corresponds to a zodiac animal. The year of the dog is the eleventh zodiac animal. The previous Year of the Dog was 2006, and the next will be 2030.
China is such a vast and diverse country with various customs and traditions for bringing in the lunar new year. Certainly, you do hear of such practices as avoiding cleaning clothes, using scissors and sweeping floors. There is one custom where people clean their homes before the new year starts, sometimes a week or at least two days before hand. “Dust” and “old” or “past” are a homonym, so by sweeping away the dust you sweep away the bad luck of the past and allow new fortunes to come. That being said, put a stop to the cleaning before the new year celebrations start, otherwise you may sweep, wash or even mop away the incoming good fortunes!
Photo: Tania Bettega. Chinalux president Dirk Dewitte is pictured speaking at the BRIC event in January
What changes regarding business and trade with China can we expect to see in Luxembourg in this the year of the dog?
In terms of business and trade between China and Luxembourg, in the year of the dog we can expect to see further development in the finance sector, including fintech and green finance, as well as infrastructure and telecommunications. Additionally, following the signing of two space cooperation agreements last month to outline the framework for China-Luxembourg space cooperation and for the setting up of a Chinese space resource centre in Luxembourg respectively, we may anticipate increasingly closer engagement in the space sector between the two countries.
How can the general public join in the Chinese New Year celebrations in Luxembourg?
There will be quite a few events and celebrations in Luxembourg to bring in the year of the dog. Chinalux is involved with two events, both of which are open to members of the public. Chinalux will host together with the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels the Chinese New Year Reception on 22 February, with guests of honour Pierre Gramegna, minister of finance, and Huang Changqing, ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Luxembourg. We are also supporting the Mondorf Chinese New Year Gala on 25 February, which will be cultural spectacle and a family-friendly affair.
What has Chinalux got planned for the next 12 months in Luxembourg?
Chinalux will be running a range of events and activities throughout the year, from workshops and trainings, to events on the “hot topics” of China-Luxembourg relations. We will also be connecting and collaborating with different sector bodies and organisations, as well as government representatives, both here in Luxembourg and in China, and members of our board of directors will be active in the roadshows and missions in China.
In terms of our events and activities in Luxembourg, after kicking off 2018 with the BRIC event in January and the Chinese New Year receptions this month, this year we will be exploring a number of topics, including fintech payments and green finance. In terms of cultural activities, we will host an event on the occasion of the Chinese mid-autumn festival in September, but before then, on 31 May we will celebrate the fifth anniversary of Chinalux. We look forward to announcing more details!