Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s visit in September, Barbara Woodward paid her first solo visit to Chengdu as British Ambassador to China on 19 and 20 November 2015.
During the Ambassador’s visit, she met Executive Vice Governor of Sichuan, Wang Ning, and Mayor of Chengdu, Tang Liangzhi, and exchanged views on the UK-Sichuan/Chengdu bilateral relationships. In her meetings, the Ambassador highlighted President Xi’s successful State Visit to the UK in October which opened a new Golden Era for the relationship between both countries.
This Golden Era will have an effect across the entire country – not least in the South West. She also discussed the Chancellor’s visit to Chengdu in September in which he introduced the Northern Powerhouse. The Ambassador expressed her hopes that the UK and Sichuan /Chengdu would use these opportunities to create closer links, both in the business and culture arenas.
The Ambassador visited the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China and delivered a speech on the UK-China Golden Age: Joint Efforts to a Green and Low Carbon Future to hundreds of students to highlight the UK’s and China’s cooperation on clean energy, smart cities and other areas of low carbon development.
The Ambassador visited the Gerontology Department and the Tele-health Department of West China Hospital, the second largest hospital in China. The Ambassador learned about the latest technological achievements of West China Hospital in the fields of gerontology and tele-health.
She promised to invite more of the UK’s world-leading healthcare organisations to Go West and to expand cooperation with West China Hospital and across Sichuan in developing new hospitals, in delivering training and education, and in informatics, telemedicine and elderly care.
The Ambassador also participated in an Empowering Women: Growing Your Career Talk at Fangsuo Bookstore to share her personal experiences with female university students on her own growth and career development. She urged and encouraged all the students to overcome the barriers they face, to build up their confidence, to design their own career strategies for advancement and to strive to realise their own ambitions within society.
There are now more than 94 UK companies registered and doing business in Chengdu and in Sichuan, nine of the 94 are in the world’s top 500 companies, in sectors ranging from financial and professional services, aerospace, engineering, construction and manufacturing.
The opening of UK-Chengdu direct flight in 2013, the visit of Prime Minister David Cameron and the most recent visit by Chancellor George Osborne shows the strong desire of the UK’s government to closely collaborate with Sichuan and Chengdu. The Ambassador’s visit is a further step to strengthen the strong links between Sichuan and the UK in every area.