CIVIC and political representatives gathered in the Guildhall at the weekend to welcome Chinese Provincial and Municipal leaders as part of the delegation visiting N. Ireland for the UK-China Regional Leaders’ Summit.
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, hosted a special reception for the five members of the delegation representing the City of Dalian, led by Vice-Mayor Lu Lin.
The trip was organised by the NI Executive Bureau in Beijing as part of the UK-China Regional Leaders’ Summit.
Local MP Elisha McCallion, joined the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and local party leaders in welcoming the delegates, and discussions centred on building links between the two cities and the many mutual benefits of a future partnership.
They were later joined by leading figures in local business and education, who had the opportunity to speak to delegates about the shared interests of the two areas and the North West’s attractive proposition as a base for global business.
The delegation have been enjoying the local hospitality during their three day visit to the region, which took them first to Belfast, before they arrived in the city on Sunday.
The Mayor extended a warm welcome to the group, and spoke of the strengthening relations between the two countries. “It’s an honour to host members of the Regional Leaders’ Summit here today as part of this prestigious event,” he stressed.
“This visit is testament to the ongoing efforts of our local politicians and business leaders to establish meaningful links with China.
“Council is committed to the forging and strengthening of international relations, and as our regional profile grows, we can look towards international markets for the opportunities for trade and investment which will galvanise our position in terms of global business.”
Based in North East China, the city of Dalian is a global financial centre with a population of over 6.5million.
The city specialises in the Financial and IT sectors, and is home to some of the major players in these industries including Oracle, IBM and CISCO. Local political and civic leaders heard more about their developments in the software industry, bio-medicine, digitalisation, marine engineering and advanced manufacturing.
During the visit Council’s Chief Executive John Kelpie gave the visitors an insight into the ambitious plans for growth for the NW as outlined in the recently published Strategic Growth Plan for Derry and Strabane.
The delegation heard about the City and District’s plans to enhance infrastructure, invest in jobs and skills and create the ideal environment for global investors to do business.
“We have been working to establish strong international links with locations such as Boston Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and the City of London and now we are turning our attentions to the East as part of our outreach to foreign direct investors,” Mr Kelpie explained after the meeting.
“The City is fast becoming a learning hub, and as our academic institutions at Ulster University and North West Regional College continue to forge ahead with plans for growth, we have much to offer in terms of education and skills.
“Coupled with our focus on entrepreneurship and our growing expertise in areas such as the digital and advanced manufacturing industries, we have many common interests which can form the basis of a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with the city of Dalian.”