Chinese visit offers opportunity for new links

Chinese delegates meet pupils and businesses at Grangemouth High School
Chinese delegates meet pupils and businesses at Grangemouth High School

Breaking down barriers and opening up business opportunities was the aim of a visit from Chinese delegates last week.

The district’s first official visit from representatives from Yueqing was seen as an opportunity to develop civic, educational and economic links.

Falkirk was approached by the Yueqing Government after it was named the most enterprising place in Scotland and was narrowly pipped at the post for the British title.

Yueqing is known as the electrical capital of China with more than 1500 factories producing electric appliances.

It has a population of over 1.1 million and attracts many tourists to its world renowned geological park. The delegates were keen to learn more about how tourism has developed in the UK and promote tourist links between the two countries.

The 12-strong group arrived on Thursday and first stop was Grangemouth High School where pupils and local businesses gave presentations on the benefits and strengths of strong education/business links locally.

They were then given a tour of the Ineos Refinery and Petrochemicals complex. The company recently signed a partnership agreement with oil giant Petrochina

That evening a civic reception was hosted by Provost Pat Reid in Callendar House.

Following a tour of the historic building, the group was treated to traditional entertainment courtesy of Highland dancers from Jenkins School of Dance, country dancers coached by Avril Smillie and brother and sister pipers, Andy and Amy Low.

They then sat down to a meal featuring traditional dishes made from local produce, much of which was provided by Campbells Prime Meats Ltd of Whitecross.

Welcoming the delegates, the provost said: “Hopefully this can be the start of a long association between our two areas. We are delighted that you have chosen to come here and see the work we have done in our schools and in our businesses to promote enterprise.”

In reply, Wu Yunfeng, Vice Mayor of Yueqing Municipal People’s Government, thanked the council for the hospitality and hoped that they would be able to make a return trip.

Friday morning saw a visit to bus builders Alexander Dennis Ltd in Camelon before going to the Falkirk Wheel where they met representatives from British Waterways, Visit Scotland and Falkirk’s Chinese community.

They then went to Falkirk Stadium to sign a memorandum of agreement with Falkirk Council leaders

The UK was the first stop of the delegation’s European trip. After visiting Falkirk, they returned to London before taking the Eurostar to visit authorities in France and Spain.