The Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Flo Nash, welcomed a delegation from Changzhou, China on Wednesday 12 September. The visiting group of dignitaries spent two days in the borough, culminating in a tree planting ceremony in Brueton Park.
On Tuesday the delegation experienced the industrial strengths of the area as well as the tourism and heritage of the Borough. They visited local manufacturing companies V Installations, ZF and Jaguar Land Rover, as well as touring Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens and Berkswell Village.
The visit is part of an ongoing relationship between Solihull and Changzhou, with the two having signed a ‘sister cities’ agreement in 2016. Changzhou is located in Eastern China and has a population of 12 and a half million people and has shared interests with Solihull in terms of advanced engineering and development around high speed rail connections.
The Mayor gave a welcoming speech for the delegation on Wednesday morning at the Civic Suite. Afterwards both delegations made their way to Brueton Park for the planting of a Gingko Biloba tree. It is the national tree of China and is believed to have healing properties.
Xu Fangzhong, the leader of the Changzhou delegation, spoke about the importance of the friendship between Solihull and the Chinese city, with particular reference business and tourism. He also spoke about how the HS2 project mirrored high speed railways in Changzhou. In addition he talked about how welcome the four government officials and 13 ordinary citizens that made up the visiting delegation had been made to feel in Solihull.
The ceremony was recorded for broadcast by a Chinese television crew, who travelled with the group from Changzhou.
The Mayor said: “I am delighted to welcome our friends from Changzhou, it is marvellous that Solihull has links all over the world.”
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Bob Sleigh OBE, also spoke warmly about the visit after the tree had been planted. Councillor Sleigh said “We have economic strengths and opportunities in common. Strengths in automotive and aerospace, rail and financial services.” He also noted that “Changzhou is ranked as one of the most liveable cities in China and Solihull has been ranked as the best place to live in this country.”
The “Tale of Two Cities” visit was particularly focused on increasing tourism for Solihull and Changzhou. Members of the visiting party said they had very much enjoyed the hospitality they had experienced whilst in the borough. The Chinese delegation stayed at Castle Bromwich Hall during their visit and had lunch at Hampton Manor Hotel on Tuesday and refreshments at Hogarths Hotel on Wednesday.