Today (Friday 11 November) Nottingham City Council will be awarded the ‘sister city of year’ by the Chinese Government for the links the city has developed with Ningbo, China.

The Nottingham-Ningbo relationship was chosen by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries as the ‘sister city relations of the year’ because of the years of collaboration the two cities have enjoyed.

Nottingham’s relationship with Ningbo began in 2004 when the University of Nottingham chose the east coast city, two hours south of Shanghai, to establish the first Sino Foreign University in China. The relations between the two cities have developed on the back of the educational connections.

Earlier this year, the two cities became the first sister cities internationally to sign a ‘Five Year Plan.’ Drawing on themes from the Chinese Central Government’s Five Year Plan, the two cities will focus on four key areas: Trade and Investment; Education; Culture and Sport; and Civic links.

Trade and Investment is the key area of focus, and a demonstration of this commitment is the opening of a new Nottingham-Ningbo Trade and Investment Office, funded by the Ningbo Government, run by Nottingham City Council and hosted at the University of Nottingham’s campus in Ningbo. Laixi, the new officer, is a graduate of both the University of Nottingham and its campus in Ningbo and has a finance background.

City Council chief executive Ian Curryer said: “This prestigious award is another step that helps put Nottingham on the map in China. In China, we market ourselves to businesses and investors as ‘the UK’s China friendly city.’ This award goes further by recognising that the links we have in Ningbo are the second to none internationally.

“Considering the uncertainty around Brexit, we are doing more to reach out to the Chinese market. We want to attract investment into specific projects in the city as well as supporting businesses to increase trade with China. I urge any business which is considering ramping up their China links to get in touch with our China team to see if we can support.”