City leaders hope to make Sheffield a base for Chinese investment in the north by setting up a ‘world-class’ business gateway.
The University of Sheffield‘s Confucius Institue and Sheffield Chamber of Commerce announced their plans today, a week after the city council confirmed a 60-year partnership with the Sichuan Guodong Construction Group.
University vice-chancellor Sir Keith Burnett is currently in Nanjing, China, promoting Sheffield.
He said: “China is a quarter of the world’s population and we face many similar challenges around energy, sustainable jobs and healthcare as our populations age.
“If we can pool our expertise and energy over years and decades, we have the potential to do real good in the world and to bring a powerful boost to the future economy of the UK’s Northern Powerhouse.”
The Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield is a partnership between the university, the Office of Chinese Language Council International, Beijing Language and Culture University and Nanjing University.
Sheffield Chamber of Commerce chief executive Richard Wright said: “The Chamber of Commerce has worked with the Confucius Institute for some time on business language and understanding, but we need to take that to a new level.
“If we get this right, I am confident we can help to make Sheffield the landing place for China in the North, drawing in particular on the strong existing links with China through the University, Sheffield Council and existing investors like New Era Development.
“I am delighted that the university is so actively supporting this essential context through its extensive Chinese contacts and staff and students with vital expertise in supporting international exchange and collaboration.”
Confucius Institute director Dr Lucy Zhao, who is also in China for the University of Sheffield meetings, said: “Confucius Institutes around the world are committed to building bridges with China, but in Sheffield we have worked with our chairman, professor Sir Keith Burnett, to develop a very strong focus on industry and health.
“We have worked with the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce not only to teach Chinese language and business culture to local company leaders, but also to help translate and facilitate inward investment and the New Era Square development.”
“We know though that if we are truly to be the landing place for China in the north of England, we need to make the most professional and culturally adept point of welcome. We are determined that we make the bridge between China and Sheffield as easy as possible for both sides to navigate, using students from the University’s internationally-leading Department of East Asian Studies and our talented Chinese students to support this.
“It is really a tremendous opportunity for everyone.”
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