The existing Friendly City Relationship between Nelson and Yangjiang city in Guangdong province, south west China, was formalised in July 2014 in an official ceremony held in the Council Chamber.
An official delegation of six travelled from Yangjiang especially for the occasion, including Zhou Lerong, Executive Deputy Mayor and Fu Guangyan, Deputy Secretary-General of Yangjiang Municipal People’s Government, Ma Hongzao, Director of Yangjiang Municipal Tourism Foreign and Overseas Bureau, along with delegates from the city’s thriving business and technology sectors: Ding Xifeng, District Chief of the Hailing Economic Development Test Zone; Lin Jinqui, District Chief of the Yangjiang Hi-Tech Development Zone and Zhang Fan, Section Chief of the Foreign Affairs Section, Tourism Foreign and Overseas.
In recognition of the importance of the Friendly City Relationship in developing strong links between New Zealand and China, the ceremony was also attended by representatives from the Chinese Consulate in Christchurch: Dr Chua Yanli, Vice Consul-General and Fan Jianghong, Commercial Consul.
Nelson was well represented at the occasion by Councillors, Youth Councillors and Council staff, alongside members of the local business community, the New Zealand-China Friendship Society and the Nelson China Association.
Bill Findlater from Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency, who helped to arrange the visit said, “China is New Zealand’s number one trading partner and we are the only western country to have a free-trade agreement with China. Building Friendly City Relationships like this is extremely important for our city’s economic development.”
Mayor Rachel Reese added that Friendly City relationships are particularly beneficial where common areas of focus exist, as is the case with Nelson and Yangjiang.
“Although, with a population of just under three million, Yangjiang is considerably larger than Nelson, our cities have many things in common. Both regions are a much-loved holiday destination for domestic visitors; both have thriving ports and fishing industries and we share a common specialism in the fields of ecology, aquaculture and environmental protection. There are also striking geographic similarities between Yangjiang and Nelson, with both cities boasting beautiful swathes of golden sand and popular coastline, bordered by forest and mountains.”
During their visit the Yangjiang delegates also made time to visit NMIT and the Cawthron Institute, as well as some of the region’s most popular tourism destinations, including Kaiteriteri beach and the W.O.W Museum.
Mayor Reese emphasised the importance of developing a strong and enduring relationship between the two cities.
“Building robust links in education, tourism and trade at a regional level are key elements of the partnership Nelson is developing with China. I am delighted to be formalising Nelson’s Friendly City Relationship with Yangjiang through today’s signing ceremony and I look forward to exploring opportunities together, to benefit the people of both cities.”
Yangjiang’s Executive Deputy Mayor, Mr Zhou, responded to Mayor Reese’s welcome by offering his sincere thanks for Nelson’s hospitality. He felt that the welcome had been extremely warm and believed strongly in the future of a mutually beneficial relationship between the two cities. He said that many elements of Nelson reminded him of his home in Yangjiang, in particular the beautiful golden beaches, and echoed Mayor Reese’s desire to cooperate particularly in the areas of environmental protection, aquaculture and education.