Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane welcomed Madame Zhang Meifang, NI Chinese Consul General, and a high profile delegation of Chinese business and media leaders to City Hall in his first international engagement.
Guests included representatives from the Ministry of Commerce, the Commercial Office of the Chinese Embassy in London, the CCIC London Company Ltd which provides policy briefings to the Chinese government departments, the Jiangsu Economic and Trade Office in the UK, the travel industry and reporters from a range of Chinese broadcast outlets, including China Daily, which has the widest print circulation of any English-language newspaper in China.
The Lord Mayor commented: “It’s a great honour for me to host Madame Zhang Meifang and our Chinese guests and to showcase the investment opportunities, tourism offer and the excellent quality of our educational offer here in Belfast.
“We’ve been developing links with China since the 1990s when we signed a Sister City agreement with Hefei.
“We also became a Sister City of Shenyang in 2016 and as a result, we’ve been establishing strong academic connections through the Confucius Institute, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, and Belfast Metropolitan College – welcoming ever increasing numbers of Chinese students here to study with us.”
Mr Finucane said the tourism industry was benefiting significantly from an influx of Chinese visitors.
He went on: “We’ve had a fantastic opportunity to shine the spotlight on our compelling visitor and investment propositions and to discover first-hand how we can help our colleagues do business, invest and visit here more easily.
“We’re also working towards participating in an Innovation mission to China later in 2019, led by the NI Executive Office and China Bureau, in partnership with Invest NI and regional councils, so this evening has given us excellent information and contacts to build on.”
Members of Belfast City Council were joined by colleagues from the Belfast Region City Deal partnership, Invest NI, Tourism NI, local government, academia and wider China stakeholders.