Sheffield to host China's visit to the northern powerhouse

Sheffield is hosting a major delegation from China this week (23-24 March 2016) as the city builds on its relationship with one of the world’s strongest economies.

As part of the Foreign Office and United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTi) sponsored UK-China Regional Leaders Summit in London, a delegation of 43 representatives from Chengdu; Jaingxi; Chongqing; Hubei; Hunan; Wuhan and the China People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) are visiting the heart of the northern powerhouse today for a fact-finding mission and to develop closer relationships with the University of Sheffield and the city.

China UK flag illustrationThe delegation includes Li Xiaolin, President of CPAFFC; Zhu Zhihong, Executive Vice-Mayor of Chengdu and Ministers from UK government who are set to attend a networking seminar at the City Hall. Councillor Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council will deliver a presentation on the benefits of advanced manufacturing for the northern powerhouse and Sheffield.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader at Sheffield City Council said: “We are looking forward to welcoming the Chinese delegation to Sheffield. We have already made some valuable contacts in China and this is our chance to showcase some of the significant developments and investment opportunities in our city.

“It should not be underestimated how important these personal contacts with such a strong economic market can be to Sheffield and we are keen to use this visit as the start of a long and valuable relationship with China.”

During the visit, the delegation will be split into three groups and focus on integrated transport planning, primary healthcare and the creative industries. Following introductions from UK experts, each group will be taken on site visits to key locations in that field.

The opportunities that will be created as a result of greater partnerships between the city of Sheffield and China will enable us to really work together and drive economic transformation in the north.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett

The day will be completed with a formal dinner at the Cutler’s Hall in the evening –with a ‘Best of British Food’ menu designed by a Michelin Star chef. Local business leaders and representatives from other northern powerhouse cities will also be attending the dinner.

On Thursday the delegation splits into smaller groups to visit other areas in the northern powerhouse – Leeds, Manchester, Hull and Warrington.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield will be delivering a key note speech to the business delegation during the visit.

Sir Keith, who is a speaker of Mandarin Chinese, has already held several meetings with leaders of Chinese universities and senior officials, as well as discussions with China's Metallurgical Corporation in relation to supporting business partnerships around advanced manufacturing and access to technologies which support more sustainable industries.

In 2014 he was awarded an Individual Excellence Award by the Vice-Premier of China for his personal contribution to the understanding of Chinese language and culture. The University of Sheffield is also home to a model Confucius Institute focused on the language and culture of business, sustainability and health and was named Confucius Institute of the Year.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett said: “This is a crucial time for the United Kingdom to reach out to China to face mutual challenges which we can only fully address together.

“Both China and the UK are dealing with issues of sustainable energy, climate change, how to develop our cities and care for the elderly as populations shift. All of these areas require common purpose and the willingness to listen and learn from one another. The opportunities that will be created as a result of greater partnerships between the city of Sheffield and China are enormous and will enable us to really work together and drive economic transformation in the north."

The Chinese visitors are keen to learn from Sheffield’s experience in developing new places of education and the good practices in the city. Since entering into a Sister Cities agreement in 2010 Sheffield and Chengdu have remained in close contact and will further that relationship during the visit by signing two memorandums of understanding.

The first, on Strategic Cooperation commits both cities to working together to develop programmes of cultural, educational and trade, investment and tourism exchange to benefit citizens from both cities. The second on International Education Cooperation commits both to work together to explore the development of schools in each other’s cities, with an initial outline to develop a ‘Sheffield’ school in Chengdu.

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