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Written Statement - Visit to China

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Carwyn Jones, First Minister

Members will be aware that I have recently returned from a visit to China.  The purpose of my visit was to reinforce and build on Wales’ relationship with the Municipality of Chongqing, and to seek greater engagement with the central and Municipal Governments in Beijing, with a view to enhancing the educational and business opportunities for Welsh institutions and companies.  I was joined at various points during my visit programme by senior business and education representatives from Wales, who also had their own programme.

My first engagement in Chongqing was with the Commission of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation (COFTEC), accompanied by a number of the Welsh representation, to discuss business opportunities both in trade and investment.  The profile and reputation established by Wales in Chongqing was evident through the willingness and eagerness of COFTEC to explore business opportunities.

I visited the Two Rivers New Zone (TRNZ) in Chongqing and met the Director General.  TRNZ is the third national-level development area established in China (after Shanghai’s Pudong District and Tianjin’s Binhai New Area) and will be the centre of finance and commerce for inland China.  TRNZ is expected to contribute approx £60billion to Chongqing GDP annually.

I had separate high-level meetings with Party Secretary Bo Xilai and Mayor Huang Qifan, who hosted a dinner attended by senior Chongqing Government personnel and the Welsh representatives.  The meetings were positive and constructive, again recognising the Wales – Chongqing relationship.  We discussed a number of opportunities in business and education.  I signed a new Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and the Chongqing Government, which supersedes the previous Agreement signed in 2008.

I participated in the launch of the Wales – Chongqing Further Education Consortium established by CollegesWales/ColegauCymru to develop collaborative links with the vocational education sector in Chongqing and South West China, and in the launch of the Wales – China Higher Education Training Consortium established by the University sector in Wales, effectively providing a one-stop shop for Chinese universities, government organisations and the private sector across the full range of training and development courses offered by Welsh universities.  Both Consortia will have a staff member based in the Welsh Government office in Chongqing. 

Other engagements in Chongqing included a media conference; a visit to Chongqing HIFU Technology Co Ltd, specialising in high intensity focused ultrasound therapy who are interested in establishing a centre in Wales; a visit to and meeting with the China Three Gorges Museum who will host an exhibition from the National Museum of Wales next year; attendance at the signing of a collaborative Agreement between Cardiff University and the Chongqing Cancer Hospital; a visit to the Welsh garden being constructed at the China International Garden Expo designed by the National Botanical Garden of Wales (the only UK garden at the Expo); a visit to a social housing project; and attendance at a Reception hosted by the British Consulate General in Chongqing.

In Beijing I received a full briefing from the Deputy Ambassador on UK – China relations and the opportunities in the education and business fields.  I subsequently met the Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs for positive and constructive talks on the Wales – China relationship and opportunities for greater engagement in business, education and culture, including enhancement of China’s diplomatic presence vis-à-vis Wales.

I attended the signing of a MOU between Swansea University and Daluhuangxing Quality Certification Control Centre Co Ltd (HXQC) relating to the establishment of a China European Standards Institute at Swansea, and met the Director General of Hanban (the Chinese Language  Council International) in support of an application by Bangor University for the establishment of a Confucius Institute at the University.

I had constructive and very positive discussions with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) about the lifting of restrictions on the import of Welsh lamb to China, and with the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFAE) about accreditation of the Wales – China Higher Education Training Consortium as an approved training body for courses funded by the Government.  I hosted a Reception for new and existing contacts in Beijing.

I met the Mayor of the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality and signed a Memorandum of Understanding between our two respective Governments setting out the intention of both Governments to work together in the areas of economic trade and development, education and training, standards and quality, environment, culture and governance.

Wales has developed very positive links with China and it’s vital to maintain and build on this in the years ahead.  The feedback I received from other Welsh representatives during the visit has been similarly positive.  I believe there are significant opportunities for Wales in China and it is my intention to ensure that those opportunities are realised.