Surrey races to build links with Liaoning

The English county of Surrey hopes to move to the front of the race to develop closer ties with China’s Liaoning province following a visit by its governor, Tang Yijun, and the mayor of Shenyang, Jiang Youwei.

While in London for an event at the Royal Lancaster Hotel that was aimed at encouraging investment in the northeast Chinese province that is part of the country’s industrial heartland, the governor and the mayor had a private meeting with Surrey County Council Chairman Tony Samuels, who has been working to cultivate relations with China.

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“Surrey is home to the headquarters of many multinationals from around the world but as yet none from China,” Samuels said. “With China being the world’s biggest exporting nation and its economy growing so rapidly, it makes strategic sense for us to build connections there.”

Situated just south of London, Surrey has easy access to the capital and is also close to the capital’s two main international airports, Heathrow and Gatwick.

“Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Chinese embassy in London has helped set up links between Surrey and Liaoning province and, in February this year, the mayor of Shenyang paid us a visit, where understanding was built about mutual opportunities, since when I have also been there,” Samuels said.

As the gateway to the industrial heartland of northeast China, Liaoning has huge commercial market potential, with more than 109 million customers, and Samuels believes Surrey has a headstart on some other regions because of its existing connections.

“The vice-chancellor of Surrey University, Professor Max Lu, is a graduate of North Eastern University in Shenyang, and retains strong alumni links. My visit there helped strengthen existing connections between the two institutions, and I’m hopeful this will lead to greater mutual understanding and tangible benefits in the months to come.”

Liaoning has had a close economic relationship with the UK since the Eighth China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue in 2016, where Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and China’s Vice-Premier Ma Kai agreed to explore partnerships with China’s free-trade zones.

Following on from that, in 2017 the UK Department of International Trade signed a memorandum of understanding with the Dalian municipal government to establish the Sino-UK (Dalian) Advanced Manufacturing Industry Pilot Park in the Dalian Huayuankou Economic Zone, an area that has won several national awards for its innovative business practices.

To round of the visit, Samuels took his guests to one of Surrey’s biggest global success stories -the headquarters of the McLaren Formula 1 racing team, in the town of Woking.

“McLaren are absolute world leaders in what they do, showcasing the very best that Surrey has to of er,” said Samuels. “The mayor and the governor thoroughly enjoyed their time there, and it was the perfect way to round of a trip which I hope will lead to the further strengthening of links between Liaoning province and Surrey.”

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