The UK’s Midlands Engine and China’s Guizhou Province signed a new agreement in London on Wednesday, announcing they planned to cooperate in areas including trade, big data and tourism.
Guizhou is one of China’s poorest provinces, but in recent years local government has spearheaded a drive to transform the province into a hub for some of China’s emerging industries, including big data, macro-ecology and tourism.
This new agreement sees the province partnering with Britain’s Midlands Engine, a coalition of local authorities, universities, businesses and other bodies aiming to expand the regional economy of the Midlands area of England.
Earlier this year, we reported that the Midlands Engine was looking to partner with China as part of its strategy for international growth.
“China and the UK face huge opportunities for cooperation at a sub-national level,” commented Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming, drawing comparisons between the Chinese Communist Party’s plan to develop China’s western regions and the UK government’s regional development strategies including the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine.
“There’s an obvious match between their strategies and policies which if well leveraged could create new impetus for cooperation,” he added.
Governor of Guizhou Shen Yiqin, who attended the event with a visiting delegation from the province, said she hoped Guizhou and the UK could form numerous “bridges of cooperation” in fields including trade, big data, the environment and tourism.
Chris Allen, who is working with the Midlands Engine on helping Chinese companies to extend their global reach, said part of the group’s plan was for Chinese companies to base themselves in the Midlands area and “cooperate with the different businesses in the Midlands Engine.”
As part of the same event, the non-profit organisation China Craftsmanship signed an agreement with the UK’s University of Huddersfield. The university is aiming to roll out a range of vocational programmes in China, aimed at helping Guizhou-based craftspeople “learn how to scale up and commercialize their work,” China Craftsmanship chairperson Xia Hua told China Daily.
Guizhou is also known for its cultural diversity and is home to a large number of Chinese ethnic minority communities some of whom have strong traditions of crafts such as embroidery and hand weaving.
The event closed with a catwalk show of designer fashion incorporating Guizhou embroidery and hand weaving.