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British presence in Wuhan to further enhance links with China

The opening of the new Consulate will further enhance the UK’s links with Central China.

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The opening of the new Consulate will further enhance the UK’s links with Central China.
The opening of the new Consulate will further enhance the UK’s links with Central China.

Today, Barbara Woodward CMG OBE, British Ambassador to China, Shao Weimin, Vice Mayor of Wuhan, Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, and Nick Whittingham, British Consul-General in Wuhan, cut a ribbon to launch construction of the new British Consulate General in Wuhan.

Located in Corporate Centre 5 of Wuhan Tiandi, the new British Consulate will officially open to public later this summer. It is the fourth British Consulate in China. In addition to the British Embassy China in Beijing, the UK also has Consulates in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing. The opening of the new Consulate will further enhance the UK’s links with Central China.

Nick Whittingham also announced the launch of operations of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and British Council in Wuhan. The two teams began working in Wuhan in March, and will further explore and enhance the relations between the UK and Wuhan in areas of trade and investment, arts, culture and education.

UK Week’ in Wuhan

This week, the Consulate as well as other UK government departments and partners, including UKTI, UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI), British Council, VisitBritain, the China Britain Business Council, and Manchester City Council (Wuhan’s sister city in the UK), organised UK Week’ in Wuhan. This comprises a series of events in the areas of business, tourism, education, culture in one of the most dynamic cities in China.

This week-long series of events aims to raise the profile of the UK’s unique characteristics in one of China’s fastest-growing and most dynamic cities. The series of events demonstrated the UK’s strengths as a creative, knowledge-based economy and a country that warmly welcomes Chinese visitors and investment.

Smart Cities

Smart Cities Planning and Governance is a special focus of the week. The final workshop for the project of UK-China Smart Cities: Planning and Governance was organised and the project of UK-China Smart Cities: Design and Delivery was launched. These projects, funded by FCO China Prosperity SPF Fund will support the development of smart cities in both China and the UK, and will enhance the city links between Manchester and Wuhan.

Barbara Woodward CMG OBE, British Ambassador to China said:

I am delighted that one of my first acts as Ambassador is to take part in a UK Week here in Wuhan and to oversee the opening of a new British Consulate-General. The Consulate-General in Wuhan is the UK’s first new post in China for 14 years.

The UK’s choice of this city for its new Consulate General reflects the British Government’s strong belief that Hubei and Wuhan will be future powerhouses in China as the balance of its economic power shift to the centre and to the west. By working together we can do so much more for the prosperity of the UK and Wuhan.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council said:

Manchester and Wuhan have been sister cities for many years and the relationship has gone from strength to strength. I’m delighted to lead such a significant Manchester delegation to Wuhan to further deepen our relations and the opening of this new consulate is a significant moment.

Manchester and Wuhan have much in common and I’m sure our ever-growing links will benefit the citizens in both cities, opening up new opportunities for economic and cultural connections.

Nick Whittingham, Consul-General in Wuhan said:

I am delighted to officially announce the start of the construction work of the British Consulate-General, and look forward to the full team arriving in the summer to strengthen the links between the UK and Wuhan.

The Consulate-General as well as all the other British government departments and partners will be on the ground to support business and people in Wuhan. And we plan to hit the ground running.

UK visa applications in Wuhan

The UK has a long-standing relationship and wide-ranging engagement with Wuhan. In 1986 that Manchester and Wuhan became sister cities, and since then, the two cities gradually enhanced their cooperation and communications. In addition, since last May, a new British Visa Application Centre officially opened in Wuhan to better meet the needs for Chinese nationals applying for a UK visa.

In addition, since last May, a new British Visa Application Centre officially opened in Wuhan to better meet the needs for Chinese nationals applying for a UK visa. According to the latest figures, the number of UK visa applications received in Wuhan increased 20% last year to more than 12,300. We expect the number of applications to continue to rise and the opening of the new British Consulate to lead to an even greater rate of growth.

Memorandums of Understanding

During the week, Barbara Woodward, Sir Richard Leese, and Nick Whittingham, also met with Wang Guosheng, the Governor of Hubei Province, Shao Weimin, Vice Mayor of Wuhan, and Liu Yingzi, Vice Mayor of Wuhan, to express the gratitude to the support provided by Hubei Provincial Government and Wuhan Municipal Government linked to the opening of the British Consulate General in Wuhan. Both sides express eagerness to expand all aspects of our bilateral relationship.

Both countries and the two cities between Manchester and Wuhan also signed a series of deals and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), which includes:

1. Manchester-Wuhan Protocol to Sister City Agreement

Signed by Sir Richard Leese and Wuhan Vice Mayor Liu, the agreement sets out priorities for city-to-city co-operation over the next five years.

2. Manchester-Wuhan Smart Cities MoU

The smart cities MoU was signed by Richard Elliott, Manchester City Council and Director Huang Changqing, Wuhan Office for Cyberspace Affairs. The MoU is to boost co-operation and exchange between the two cities to identify smart city solutions. The cities will work together to highlight the challenges each city faces in tackling smart city issues and find ways the cities and their companies can collaborate.

3. Sustainable Urbanisation MoU

The Sustainable Urbanisation MoU was signed by Stephen Ellison, UKTI, British Embassy Beijing, and Mr Zou Weidong, Vice Director, Wuhan Commerce Bureau. This MoU will focus on developing more business exchange that supports sustainable development. This includes tackling air pollution, water quality and soil remediation. At the heart of the MoU is an information exchange platform that will highlight business opportunities and specific challenges both in Wuhan and in the UK. These opportunities will be “posted” on the platform.

4. China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) – Wuhan Commerce Bureau MoU

The MoU between CBBC and Wuhan Commerce Bureau was designed to enhance cooperation in trade and investment. The two parties will jointly promote information exchange, co-organise trade and investment promotion activities, and provide assistance for companies from the other party to set up and grow their business in the host country.

5. Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) – China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) MoU

This MoU was signed by Philomena Chen, UKTI North West, and Mr Zeng Shiming, Vice Director of Wuhan CCPIT. The GMCCCCPIT MoU aims to boost business exchange between the two regions.

Published 27 March 2015