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Council leader Steve Count returned from China last week following a trade visit aimed at cementing closer links with Chinese companies interested in investment opportunities in Cambridgeshire.

He used the trip to secure the opening of a Cambridgeshire office in Yangzhou City in Jiangsu province - a City soon to be connected by high speed rail link with the neighbouring global trade powerhouse Shanghai.

For the last three years, Cllr Count, and County Council chief executive Gillian Beasley have been developing relationships with foreign investors interested in Cambridgeshire, including working closely with Martin Garrett of Cambridge Cleantech and Dr Chenguang Sun from UK Cambridge Education Centre to develop a strategic agreement which encourages local companies and investors to collaborate with Chinese companies and investors and vice versa – boosting economic opportunities for Cambridgeshire.

As the next step in developing the agreement Cllr Count and his wife were invited by the Chinese to make a fact finding trip to the cities of Yangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen – entirely funded by the Chinese partners - with Mr Garrett, to hold exploratory talks with targeted Chinese local government authorities and key business figures and entrepreneurs on a range of trade development opportunities for Cambridgeshire businesses.

The new office, comprising an entire floor of a 1.2million sq.m. building in the High Tech quarter, is entirely financed by Chinese businesses and Chinese local government for three years with no obligations. This will be available for the future use of Cambridgeshire businesses and new start-up companies – particularly those focussed on areas being promoted by Cleantech such as transport, communication, air quality, and resource efficiency; smart cities, energy, and construction.

During the visit Cllr Count also held talks on establishing future collaborations including the possibilities of a Cambridgeshire Science and Enterprise event in China, and Chinese science parks co-operating on investment with Cambridgeshire science parks.

The cultural connection was not forgotten, and during the visit Cllr Count was also invited to lunch in Guangzhou city, by Chinese entrepreneur Miss LiLi, the curator and founder of the ‘Thirteen Hongs Guangzhou museum’. Ms LiLi who has funded eight museums, has previously played host to Prince Michael of Kent and other members of the Royal Family.

Cllr Count was delighted with the success of the mission evidenced by inviting a return visit to Cambridgeshire in July, by high level representatives from the Guangdong Province. This important area has a population of 118 million and GDP of one trillion sterling. This return visit will provide an opportunity to continue high level strategic talks on potential areas of mutual benefit and collaboration.

Cllr Count said: “Cambridgeshire has a global reputation as a hub for innovation and development, and many areas of the world are very keen to build stronger links with us. We already have good relationships with China through the very many business people who have completed their education here.”

“This exciting opportunity I believe will result in even more lasting benefits for the people of Cambridgeshire – with the potential to open up new avenues for jobs and prosperity - and for partners in China, who are eager to invest in and benefit from our expertise.

“I am particularly pleased that productive talks centred around our Cleantech industry. As I pointed out in my environment and climate change motion to Full Council in May, Cambridgeshire is at the forefront of Cleantech in the UK and this Chinese interest in financial, scientific and technical collaborations demonstrates that.”

Ribbon cutting ceremony opening offices in Yuangzhou City knowledge city.

Cllr Steve Count signing a visitors book with Chinese entrepreneur Miss LiLi at her museum.

Watch a short TV feature on Yangzhou TV here.

TV Host explains: Mayor Xia Xinmin met the Cambridgeshire Delegation group led by Cllr Steve Count . He had a good meeting with Steve Count and the other delegates to discuss the (potential) collaborations between two regions in the fields of high technology, innovation, people training etc.

In the broadcast Mayor Xia express the warmest welcome to Mr Steve Count and the other delegates – explaining Yangzhou is a 2500year old city and now wishes to become one of top liveable garden cities, an international travelling city and an innovation city in China.   He welcomed the innovators and expressed his hopes that companies could develop the China market through Yangzhou. Cllr Count said in reply that links between Yangzhou and Cambridgeshire could have a ‘win win’ effect, as both have a lot of similarities.

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