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Mayor Wade-Brown reflects on 2012 delegation to China

China General Interest

By Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington City

Today Wellingtonians enjoy closer and more diverse connections with China than ever before. It is an exciting time that brings many opportunities. This year has seen a significant increase in closer relations between our two countries, and in particular between Wellington and several cities including Beijing. As Mayor, I am delighted to see firsthand our economic and cultural connections strengthen.

Wellington has enjoyed a sister city relationship with Beijing since 2006 when the official Wellington-Beijing sister city agreement was signed. This relationship has opened many doors. The national NZ Inc China Strategy is designed to widen our economic, political and security relationship and sees an important role for local government.

As a result of an invitation from the former Mayor of Beijing, Guo Jinlong, to attend the inaugural China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), I led a civic and business delegation to attend the fair and expand governmental and business contacts in China. The delegation spent a week in China from Sunday 27 May to Sunday 3 June.

There were nine members of the civic delegation, including the Wellington Chamber of Commerce Economy Portfolio Leader, Councillor Jo Coughlan, and thirty business delegates. The feedback from participants was very encouraging. Many of the businesses reported improved relationships, greater knowledge of the environment for doing business, and increased trade. Given that China is now New Zealand’s second largest trading partner these key relationships are obviously growing in importance. During the visit we forged good relationships and developed some individual business opportunities that we will be following up on.

We made economic progress in many areas, and I can report the following:

  • Whitireia Polytechnic signed an agreement with the Chinese University of Physical Education in Beijing.
  • The Village Goldsmith jewellery designs will be used in shops throughout China.
  • The Formary has advanced their project to divert rice waste from being burnt, polluting China's atmosphere, to being made into sustainable upholstery fabric.
  • The Zhejiang province decided to send a very significant delegation to Wellington.

As well as these achievements, my personal highlights included seeing the beautiful West Lake by Hangzhou and cycling through the hutongs of Beijing.

I am grateful to all our Chinese hosts for making us feel so welcome. On our return, Wellington Chamber of Commerce has led the set-up of a Wellington China Business Network to share information and lessons learnt.

I am delighted to be able to return the hospitality to Governor Xia Baolong and the significant 180-strong Zhejiang delegation during their visit to Wellington this month. Governor Xia is here to sign the Strategic Economic Partnership: Memorandum of Cooperation that will be the platform for future business connections between the Zhejiang Province and New Zealand. In addition to this Grow Wellington and Zhejiang Radio and Television Group will also sign a Memorandum of Cooperation to encourage joint development and collaboration in the film and media industry. I hope they will enjoy all that our capital city has to offer during their brief stay.

To share your experience and achievement leading delegations to China please contact Luke Qin