Sheffield will be hosting a major delegation from China today hoping to build on its relationship with one of the world’s biggest economies.
The delegation of 43 representatives from Chengdu, Jaingxi, Chongqing; Hubei; Hunan; Wuhan and the China People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, will be visiting Sheffield for a fact-finding mission and to develop closer relationships with the city.
The delegation will include Li Xiaolin, president of CPAFFC, Zhu Zhihong, executive vice-mayor of Chengdu and ministers from UK government who will attend a networking seminar at the City Hall.
Coun Leigh Bramall, deputy leader of Sheffield Council will deliver a presentation on the benefits of Advanced Manufacturing for the Northern Powerhouse concept and for Sheffield.
Coun Bramall said: “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.”
The delegation will be split into three groups to discuss transport planning, primary health care and creative industries.
The day will be completed with a formal dinner at the Cutler’s Hall this evening – with a ‘Best of British Food’ menu designed by a Michelin Star chef.
Business leaders and representatives from other cities involved in the Northern Powerhouse concept will also be attending the dinner.
On Thursday the delegation splits into smaller groups to visit other areas in the Northern Powerhouse concept – 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 already.
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 Northern Powerhouse is a proposal to boost economic growth in the north of England by the 2010-15 coalition government and 2015-20 Conservative government, particularly in the ‘core cities’ of Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.