A delegation from China, headed by the Vice Mayor of Hengshui City, are in Inverness this week as part of a UK trip to promote closer links and develop potential projects.
During their stay in the Highlands the group will also be meeting representatives to discuss the opportunities for closer co-operation in education, youth exchange and community health, including the training of nurses.
Provost Bill Smith who extended the invitation to Inverness said: “I am delighted to welcome the visitors from China to the Highlands. The connections between Inverness and China have developed in recent years through a number of visits made by delegations from different parts of China. This visit is a good opportunity to strengthen the links we have already made with Hengshui City. China has a new and growing economy and this new relationship will help Highland businesses identify opportunities in China and understand how best to develop relationships with this market.”
Accompanying the Vice Mayor Ms Xin Shuhua, on the visit are Mr Hao Yanbin, Director of Health, Mr Jia Chaoxu, Vice Director of Youth League, Mr Zhou Hongbo, President of Hengshui Nursing College and Mr Qin Haidi, President of Hengshui Second Middle School/Hengshui Foreign Language School.
During their stay in Inverness they will be visiting Inverness High School and Culloden Academy as well as the RNI Community Hospital and a private nursing home.
The visit has been arranged by The Highland Council’s Area Development Manager Graham Strachan and Bingan Xu , Foreign Affairs and Tourism Administrator with Hengshui City Government attached to the Council since March 2006.
Bingan Xu is due to return to his post in China at the end of this month. During his attachment he has met with business, community and social development representatives and set up a number of projects including a leaflet and website promoting Inverness and Loch Ness directly to the Chinese media.
He said: “This project has achieved all its objectives and I have greatly valued the experience and opportunity to work with so many local business and community leaders. I will take back fond memories of Inverness. This is a vibrant city in a wonderful environment. I hope many more Chinese visitors will be able to come here in the future.”
Graham Strachan, Inverness Area Development Manager said: “This has been a challenging and innovative project with many positive results. Inverness now has well established links with China and its fast-growing economy. People in the city have gained much from this experience and the links made over the last few months will be of benefit in the future.”