A landmark strategy designed to boost trade and investment with China has been unveiled at a special celebration event.
The blueprint aims to bolster relationships and open the door for more businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire, and bolster educational links and tourism.
Created by the City and County Councils, it was launched on 11 June at an event marking 30 years of twinning arrangements between Leicestershire and Sichuan.
Delegates from Sichuan – headed by Mr. Huang JianFa, Director-General of the Organisation Department, CPC Sichuan Provincial Committee – attended the event alongside Sir John Peace, chair of the Midlands Engine and civic, business and university leaders
“Imports and exports between Sichuan and the UK are already rising and by the end of last year, had a combined value of around £735m. But we want to help more local businesses to grow, by opening the door to China’s economy.
“The new strategy builds on our reputation for world-class education and research and innovation, making Leicester and Leicestershire an even more attractive place to do business. I’m confident we can continue to forge even stronger links as China continues to expand. “
Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby adds: “The new strategy creates an important opportunity for us all to build on the strong relationships that already exist and I am particularly excited about the prospects for using our sporting strengths and reputation to drive new international partnerships.”
Sir John Peace comments: “It was a pleasure to speak at the 30th anniversary event of the twinning of Leicestershire and Sichuan.
“The Midlands Engine is focused on global success, and we welcome the prospect of continuing to develop our existing relationship both with China and with Sichuan in particular. The relationship is a long-standing one and central to the success of Leicestershire and the Midlands.
“We have a Vision for Growth that is a Vision for a prosperous and successful Midlands. This vision includes celebrating the Leicestershire-Sichuan relationship now and in the future.”
The Leicestershire-China Strategy was launched at celebration event held at Winstanley House in Braunstone. Sichuan’s delegation included acrobats and dancers who performed traditional Chinese folk songs and face changing in Sichuan Opera.
- Sichuan is the size of Spain, with 90 million residents and an economy worth £31 billion. It has been twinned with Leicestershire since 1988 and is one of the longest UK-China twinning relationships.
- In November 1988, a newly appointed Governor, Mr Zhang Haoruo, visited Leicestershire to sign an agreement on the establishment of a friendly relationship between the County of Leicestershire and the Province of Sichuan. The agreement referred to exchanges, links and co-operation in the fields of industry, agriculture, trade, science, technology, culture, education, public health and tourism. The purpose of the agreement was to promote a continuous development of economic and cultural links between Leicestershire and Sichuan.
- Trade delegations have travelled between Leicestershire and Chengdu to develop business, education and cultural bonds with China. More than 300 Leicestershire businesses have now made links and 10 county schools have twinned with counterparts