Consul General of China in Manchester, Xiyuan Zheng, visited Derby on Wednesday 6th February, jointly invited by Derby City Council and the University of Derby to celebrate Chinese New Year in the city.

Mr Zheng was welcomed to the Council House by Leader of Derby City Council, Councillor Chris Poulter, Cabinet member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Councillor Alan Grimadell, Head of Economic Growth, Alan Smith,  as well as local representatives from education, business, tourism and culture.

 After the welcome meeting, Mr Zheng visited the Silk Mill and Derby Museum with Councillor Alan Grimadell. Tony Butler, Executive Director and Daniel Martin, Head of Curatorship and Curator of Making of Derby Museum showed Mr Zheng the Joseph Wright Collection, as well as providing an overview of the history of Silk Mill and its future development.

 Mr Zheng was shown a letter dating from 1740 by the Silk Mill’s then-manager, Thomas Bennet, in which there are 154 instances of the Chinese silks being discussed, showing the links between the China silk trade in Derby. A framed copy letter was gifted to Mr Zheng from the Museum.

In the afternoon, Mr Zheng attended the University of Derby Chinese New Year celebration event, with Councillor Poulter and Professor Judith Lamie, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby.

 The event included a traditional Chinese lion dance, Chinese calligraphy, painting and paper cutting. The Mayor of Hefei, Ms Ling, sent a video message wishing Derby citizens a happy new year and Mr Zheng, Councillor Poulter and Professor Judith Lamie also sent wishes by back to Hefei citizens.

 Councillor Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council, said:

“We’re honoured to have Consul General Zheng with us in the city especially during the second day of Chinese New Year. As a city we’re committed to our growing relationship with China and especially Hefei City, through business, tourism, education and innovation. It’s fantastic to bring the Chinese culture to the city and celebrate with you at such an important time. This visit is hugely important step in deepening our growing links with China.”

In November 2016, Derby City signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hefei, setting out aspirations to work on economic development projects, tourism, culture, sporting and education initiatives.

Professor Judith Lamie, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby, added:

 “The university has embarked on a very exciting journey of internationalisation; China is our number one region. We are very proud of our Chinese students and partners, especially Hefei, which is the strategic city of our China strategy. We are looking forward to having more dialogue with our students and partners in Hefei. We will continue to welcome more international students from all over the world, who will help us make Derby an even better place to live and study.”

In a speech at the university, Mr Zheng encouraged the Chinese students to act as bridge between two countries and make contribute to the friendship between China and the UK.

Xiyuan Zheng, Consul General of China in Manchester, said:

“This is my first time to Derby. To my surprise, Derby is not only a beautiful city but also a capital of innovation and engineering. Derby has very important position in all four waves of industrial revolution, with many big names including Rolls-Royce, Bombardier and Toyota. I also have also visited the Silk Mill,the world’s first genuine factory. Three hundred years ago the silk connected two ancient countries together, making  Derby and Hefei a match made in heaven. I earnestly hope that the link between Derby and Hefei could become the China – UK ‘Golden Era’.”

This visit is part of Derby’s commitment to boost trade and tourism between Derby and Hefei.