Chinese fact-finding mission discovers Carlisle
Business leaders and representatives from Maotai and Guizhou Province, in China, a region famous for its distilleries paid visited Carlisle, Cumbria, last week (12th & 13th December) as part of a fact-finding mission to the historic city.
The Chinese delegation of six included; DENG Fan, vice mayor of the Renhuai City Municipal Government, Guizhou Province; WANG Tingyong, party secretary of Maotai Town, Renhuai City; WANG Qian Director, Renhuai City Maotai-flavour Liquor Research Institute; and CHEN Jiong, deputy general manager of Renhuai City Alcohol Investment Company.
The visit was designed to further nurture previously establish educational and cultural ties, and to foster longer-term economic relationships. The Chinese delegates were invited to find out about a variety of initiatives across the city, including the Borderlands Project, a cross border initiative between English-Scottish councils focussing on several broad themes including digital technology; innovation; low carbon; and energy.
The delegates were also invited to find out about a planned sustainable housing development south of the city, known as St Cuthbert's Garden Village, a new 10,000 home 'garden village', part of an ambitious housing and development growth agenda for the district.
During their time in the city the delegates met a number of council officials, including the Mayor of Carlisle, the leader of Carlisle City Council, cultural ambassadors from Tullie House Museum & Gallery, as well as local business leaders from the food and drink industry and members of the Carlisle Ambassadors business initiative.
DENG Fan, Vice Mayor, Renhuai City Municipal Government, Guizhou Province said: ''we are part of the China-Britain Green and Low-Carbon Small Towns Project, which is designed to build links at several levels between the participating communities.We hope to learn from Carlisle by examining the city's low carbon eco developments, technological and business innovation and its developed cultural tourism offer as we start to accelerate the construction of the Moutai Demonstration Town.
The leader of Carlisle City Council, Colin Glover, said: "It was a pleasure to meet the delegation, and I think both parties gained a great deal from the visit. I look forward to our continued partnership, and hope the delegates enjoyed visiting Carlisle."
He added: "The collaboration with Maotai, and the wider province of Guizhou presents a huge range of opportunities for Carlisle. Carlisle is a developing city with real ambition, working with international partners of this calibre will help ensure that we continue to attract varied and high-quality investment, which in turn will present real opportunities for the city's businesses to access global markets.''
Simon Harrison, Hotelier and founding member of Carlisle Ambassadors, said: ''Carlisle is a city that is developing for the future and we as businesses have a real opportunity to maximise the possibilities with which we are being presented.
Visits to Carlisle like this one, by delegates from Moutai in Guizhou Province, in south western China, present real economic opportunities for the future of the city. The number of visitors travelling to the UK from China is expected to soar from fewer than 500 in 1996 to almost 500,000 by 2026. Chinese tourists spent more than £513 million in the UK last year, but that figure is set to rise sharply, and we need to get involved.
Many Chinese companies are keen to establish a physical foot print in the UK, they will, however, only do this if they are able to see growth potential opportunities that will give them an edge in business, and we as a city need to present them with those opportunities.
We are strategically placed in terms of our infrastructure and in terms of our growth potential there are no real limits. We have a real chance to showcase what we as a city have to offer and as part of the wider north west region. All that said we can only maximise these opportunities if we work together, as a business community let's get behind Carlisle Ambassadors, and make these opportunities work for us and put Carlisle on the international map.''
Nick Low, counsellor at the British Embassy in Beijing and Head of the British Government's China Regional Network, welcomed the opportunity to build links between the two cities.
"Deepening and broadening collaboration and cooperation at the regional and local level is at the heart of the Golden Era between the United Kingdom and China," he said.
"We are committed to ensuring that it's a Golden Era for all our people no matter where they live. I've had the pleasure of working with Carlisle over the last year and a half and have been impressed with the city's energy, ambition and its offer, which spans heritage, culture, public service delivery and the local economy. We look forward to working with Carlisle during this visit and beyond."