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High level Derry delegation departs for China visit

04 May 2018

A high level delegation from the North West will depart for China this weekend to further develop business links and explore mutually beneficial co-operation particularly in education, technology and tourism.

Led by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Maoliosa McHugh, the delegation will consist of senior representatives from the Council, the Ulster University, and the North West Regional College. The programme for the visit has been facilitated by the NI Bureau in China and the Dalian Foreign Affairs.

The visit comes just months after civic and political representatives welcomed Chinese Provincial and Municipal leaders who were visiting Northern Ireland for the UK-China Regional Leaders' Summit that was organised by the NI Bureau in Beijing. The theme of the summit was cooperation between Industrial Regions.  The Mayor hosted a special reception for the delegation representing the City of Dalian, led by Vice-Mayor Lu Lin.

An invitation was extended by the Dalian delegation to the Mayor to travel to China to continue the very positive discussions that took place that centred on building links between the two cities and developing the many mutual benefits of a future partnership.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mayor Cllr Maolíosa McHugh said he was looking forward to travelling to the City of Dalian to see at first hand the opportunities that exist for us to promote the North West as an attractive proposition as a base for global business and as a hub for innovation and a place to study and to visit.

“It’s a great honour for me to lead this delegation of Council officials and education providers to China. The visit is testament to the ongoing positive efforts to establish meaningful links with China. Council, in partnership with the Ulster University, the North West Regional College with the assistance of the NI Bureau, is committed to forging and strengthening international relations.

“We are on a mission to fully explore where we can develop some collaborative projects particularly in areas where we have a world-class offering that will help enhance and expand our regional profile so we can look towards international markets for the opportunities for trade and invest and share experiences to galvanise our position in terms of global business and education provision."

Based in North East China, the City of Dalian is a global financial centre with a population of over 6.5million. The city specialises in the Financial and IT sectors, and is home to some of the major players in these industries including Oracle, IBM and CISCO The delegation will hear more about their developments in the software industry, bio-medicine, digitalisation, marine engineering and advanced manufacturing.

During the visit the delegation will sign a Friendly Co-operative City Agreement to formalise the working relationship between the two cities. The delegation will also visit the British and Irish Embassies, the Dalian Urban Planning Exhibition Center, the Dalian Vocational and Technical College, the city’s High-tech Zone, Dalian Municipal Government and the Dalian University of Finance and Economics.

Dr Malachy Ó Néill, Ulster University Provost of the Magee campus commented; “ The delegation visit to China is timely for Ulster University as we embark on ambitious plans to double our international students, with China a priority growth market. The Co-opertaive City Agreement with Dalian puts the Magee campus at the forefront of the minds of global education leaders and gives us a platform to showcase our world class teaching and research, innovative facilities and the impact of our international partnerships.”

Patrick McKeown, Director of Finance and Economic Engagement, North West Regional College, added: “We are delighted to be part of this regional delegation to China and see the visit as an opportunity to forge new learning and vocational partnerships with educational institutions in the city of Dalian and surrounding region.   The visit will provide our College with a platform to profile specific course programmes that we are currently offering to prospective international learners, particularly our exciting NCUK International Foundation Year programme which we will run in collaboration with Foyle International.”

John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council who is also travelling as part of the delegation said: "We have been working closely with our partners to establish strong international links with locations such as Boston Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and the City of London and more recently we have been turning our attentions to the East as part of our outreach to foreign direct investors and are delighted that the City is fast becoming a learning hub and a potential location for investment and development.

“We are delighted that our academic institutions at Ulster University and North West Regional College are working with us to continue to forge ahead with plans for growth in China and to assist us in showing the Chinese market how much we have to offer in terms of education and skills.  The visit will very much be focused on promoting our entrepreneurship and our growing expertise in areas such as the digital and advanced manufacturing industries and we are very keen to explore how we can further enhance our many common interests so we can form a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with the city of Dalian for the future," he added.

The delegation will travel to China for five days from 06-11 May.