LUCRATIVE trade deals with China have taken a massive leap forward after a delegation from Portsmouth visited the country.
A team made up of representatives from the city’s council, football club, university and port have returned after a milestone mission to forge new links with the Far East powerhouse.
Organised by Albert Choi, chairman of the Chinese Association in Portsmouth, the visit saw officials meeting influential politicians in two southern cities, Zhuai and Zhanjiang.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, was among the delegates on the self-funded trip.
He hoped it would open up the doors for future trade deals in Portsmouth. But he also said it could create great opportunities for Pompey and the University of Portsmouth. ‘This has the potential to be amazing news for Portsmouth,’ the Lib Dem chief said.
During the stay in Zhuhai, which has a population of about two million people, Pompey’s chief executive Mark Catlin was able to see how the club could grow its fan base in China as well as work closer with clubs there in a coaching role.
Mr Catlin said: ‘As a club we wear the city’s crest with pride, so to be able to go to the Far East and represent the city in such a way was an amazing opportunity and experience.’
The trip also saw a visit to the city’s polytechnic to see how the University of Portsmouth could tighten education links – which could involve foreign exchanges.
Currently, the university has about 1,400 Chinese students in attendance, bringing in hundreds of thousands of pounds to the city.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson hoped the new links would create a boom in Chinese students visiting Portsmouth – as well as giving an opportunity for students from the city to study overseas.
He added: ‘The vice-mayor in Zhuhai is one of China’s rising stars. For him to take time to see us sends a powerful message.’
The visit also took in the maritime sector in both cities, meeting companies eager to invest in the UK, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.