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Tainan City Welcomes Mayor of Leuven’s First Visit Since Becoming Sister Cities

Mayor Mohamed Ridouani of Leuven City led a governmental delegation to the Tainan City Hall today (Mar. 22). This is Mayor Ridouani’s first visit to Tainan since he took office in 2019 and is also the first time a Mayor of Leuven personally visited Tainan since the two cities became sister cities 31 years ago. The seven-person group, accompanied by Representative Matthieu Branders of the Belgium Office, Taipei, paid a visit to the Tainan City Mayor. Mayor Huang Wei-che and Director-General Su En-en of the Department of Information and International Relations welcomed the guests and expressed that this visit is very meaningful as this year marks the 31st anniversary of Tainan and Leuven’s alliance as well as the year of Tainan 400.


After expressing his delight at welcoming Mayor Ridouani and his delegation, Mayor Huang mentioned that last year when the two cities celebrated their 30th anniversary of partnership, Els Van Hoof, Co-chair of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and Thomas Van Oppens, Deputy Mayor of Leuven, visited Tainan. Huang asked Mayor Ridouani to greet the two old friends on his behalf.


Mayor Huang pointed out that Tainan is a culture and religion capital and an innovative tech city. The two features co-exist in harmony here as Tainan maintains many precious cultural traditions and is home to the Southern Taiwan Science Park as well. In addition to the existing educational exchanges between the two cities, the Mayor looks forward to more collaborations in the areas of culture and environmental protection. Especially since both cities have a common goal of reaching net-zero emissions in 2050, both parties can share experiences in this regard.


Mayor Ridouani thanked Mayor Huang for his invitation last year to take part in the Tainan 400 event series. The invite helped him realize this visit to Taiwan. Like Tainan, Ridouani said, Leuven City is a city that is both traditional and innovative and thrives to make the world a better place through innovation. He looks forward to working together on issues such as eco-sustainability, which can benefit the next generation.


Mayor Ridouani also shared that he is impressed by the value and impact of the Southern Taiwan Science Park, which he visited that morning, and mentioned the beautiful orchids lining the doors that he saw when he entered the City Hall today. The orchid is his favorite flower and one of Belgium’s most popular flowers as well, and he hopes the two cities can establish agricultural cooperations in the future.


Representative Branders jokingly said that when it comes to Belgium, you only need to remember three keywords - beer, chocolate, and Leuven. Jokes aside, he emphasized that Leuven’s spirit of diversity and innovation is exactly what Belgium aims to actualize and expressed that he is happy to see the friendship between both cities grow stronger.


Tainan and Leuven (Belgium) became sister cities in 1993. University town Leuven is the location of the main campus of KU Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), of which Mayor Ridouani is an alumnus. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven is the oldest existing Catholic university and has a permanent general cooperative agreement with Tainan’s National Cheng Kung University. Mayor Ridouani came to Taiwan for the Smart City Expo and in addition to visiting the City Hall, he also visited the Southern Taiwan Science Park and Anping Fort.