Wales’s trade and business links with China will be the focus of talks between the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, and the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, who is visiting Cardiff today (Thurs 7th Feb).

His Excellency, Liu Xiaoming, will be welcomed to the Welsh capital by the First Minister, the third time the pair have met in the city. The latest figures show Wales’ trade with China was worth £168 million in 2012.

The Welsh Government has agreements with the Municipal Governments of Beijing and Chongqing and there are a wide range of links across energy, life sciences, health and culture.  The Welsh Government promotes Wales as a place to invest through its offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing.

Education links are going from strength to strength, with the number of Chinese students studying in Wales increasing by 125 per cent between 2007/8 and 2011/12, and currently stands at 4,400 students.

Confucius Institutes, which promote Chinese language and culture, now has ten Confucius Classrooms across Wales who are helping to develop over 350 Chinese Language and Culture courses among school children of all ages across Wales.

In the evening the First Minister and the Ambassador will attend a special event in the Senedd to celebrate Chinese New Year. Guests will include members of the local Chinese community, business and academia who will be entertained by a traditional Chinese Lion Dance. A group of children from Lansdowne Primary School, which has links with a school in Chongqing, will perform a Chinese Bamboo Dance.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome the Ambassador to Wales once again,” said the First Minister.

“It is an opportunity for us to discuss our growing links and areas of mutual interest, but also a time to celebrate Chinese New Year and to welcome in the Year of the Snake.

“I understand that traditionally, people from China view the Year of the Snake as a year that symbolises a focus on ‘steady progress and attention to detail’. This suitably describes the approach of Wales’s relationship with China, with an established, yet growing variety of collaborative partnerships in many different areas including the arts, culture and business.

“Despite the huge differences in size, culture, language and custom, it is incredible just how strong the links are between Wales and China. I hope that the Year of the Snake will bring prosperity and harmony between our two nations.

“The Confucius Institutes are just one example of those links.  We have three in Wales based at Cardiff, Lampeter and Bangor Universities.  That is a higher proportion than any other part of the UK.”

Rosli Othman / Photo