Frenchman awarded Honorary Citizenship of Shanghai
Frenchman Antonio Duarte, founder and president of the DPark foreign-related economic, innovative & culture park, has been living in Shanghai for 22 years. He'd like to call the city his second home.
As a renowned entrepreneur, Duarte was honored a Shanghai Magnolia Award in 2017. Now, he was granted Honorary Citizenship of Shanghai, the highest honor for expats who have made contributions to the city's development.
"This is not only a recognition for me personally, but also an affirmation for my team in China, and my Chinese friends who have supported me for so many years," Duarte said.
"It also gave a boost to my French compatriots' confidence in pushing forward their development in Shanghai and enhancing the friendship between China and France... Shanghai is an extraordinary city, and I have witnessed the evolution of the Pudong New Area from scratch, which is now lined with well-designed skyscrapers forming a sight so majestic," Duarte said.
As an entrepreneur passionate about international cooperation, Duarte is committed to helping European companies overcome any obstacles they may encounter, and support their growth in China. He knows that by doing so, he can contribute to the economic development of both regions, and to strengthening their relationship.
He founded the DPark in 2009 to help European companies set up and develop their business in China, which has so far introduced nearly 100 European enterprises into Shanghai.
The park also actively hosted international events and participated in economic and trade cooperation projects, having been acclaimed as a "small French center" by the French Minister of the Overseas and the Consul General of France in Shanghai.
Duarte realizes that to promote the development of European enterprises in China, facing cultural clashes, differing linguistic concepts, varying implementation in policies and regulations, cost control and visa restrictions, especially amid the pandemic, are all unavoidable issues.
The main challenge is to make enterprises feel safe and welcome. So Duarte shares his expertise and experience, leading his team to provide guidance and explanations, while also sharing his "Chinese circle of friends" with European entrepreneurs.
"We know that the business environment in China, especially in Shanghai, is getting increasingly open and inclusive, and government services are more efficient and transparent," he said.
"As a foreign capital park, we are especially grateful to the Yangpu District government for its vision, courage and decision to approve the establishment of DPark in 2009."
DPark has now become a successful model of foreign-related projects which plays a pioneering role in pilot trials, thanks to the sustained support from various authorities in Shanghai and practical supportive policies and measures, he said.
"I am very proud to say that I have not only witnessed, but also participated in the international development of Shanghai," Duarte said.
"Today, Shanghai is one of the most important cities in China, Asia and even the world, which is full of passion, energy and opportunity. Working and living here and having equal opportunities, just like in Paris, I see Shanghai as my second home."
Also as a fan of art and culture, Duarte has formed a friendship with Wang Guanqing, a master of traditional Chinese painting, and also the person who recommended Duarte for his settlement in Shanghai.
"France is a country that attaches great importance to culture, and China is a famous ancient civilization, I am very keen to help promote cultural exchanges and friendship between the two countries," Duarte said.
With the support of the Charles de Gaulle Foundation and the CMN French National Monuments Center, Duarte organized a photo exhibition in 2019 on the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France at the DPark, to strengthen the cultural ties between Chinese and French entrepreneurs.
"In particular, the exhibition featured precious historical photos of the grand welcoming ceremony held by French President Emmanuel Macron on March 25, 2019 for Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his visit to France at the Arc de Triomphe," Duarte noted. "It is one of the highest symbols of friendship between China and France."
He believes "Sino-French cultural exchanges can improve mutual understanding and communication."