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A slow boat to Swad . . .

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: June 10, 2014

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A SOUTH Derbyshire MP is hoping that the district’s coalmining ‘legacy companies’ can access new business opportunities as a twinning link with China is reignited.

Derbyshire County Council is redeveloping its relations with China’s Shanxi Province, with council bosses declaring it shares ‘many economic and cultural characteristics with Derbyshire’.

County councillors are due to see a report by the strategic director of economy, transport and environment next week, which makes similarities between China and Derbyshire, saying: “A significant amount of its economy is centred around heavy industries such as coal, chemical production, power generation and metal refining. The province is also home to some of China’s major post-secondary education institutes.”

As well as seeking approval for the further development of twinning links with Shanxi Province, costing £4,500, the council also hopes to set out proposals for a Chinese visit on June 23.

The county council entered into a twinning agreement with Shanxi Province in the 1980s. Both regions were coalmining districts and looking to develop economic, educational and cultural links with other countries.

For a variety of reasons, twinning was not fully developed and the link became dormant. In 2011, Shanxi Province contacted the council requesting it be re-established.

While South Derbyshire was a major coalmining district up to the 1980s, all that remains is a legacy and Heather Wheeler, MP for the district, said: “It is important that our legacy companies who are involved in the coalmining industry have access to new opportunities for business. Shanxi Province will provide that and I will make sure that every chance is taken for South Derbyshire companies to build on our shared heritage, creating stronger companies and growing employment here.”

Twinning is about promoting friendship, understanding and mutual benefit between different countries. It provides opportunities for schools, associations, individuals and businesses to take part in activities and exchanges.

The report added: “Reinvigorating the links would provide an excellent opportunity for strengthening mutually beneficial arrangements.

“It would help support greater knowledge and understanding of the Chinese people, the Shanxi Province, its customs and beliefs, and would provide an excellent opportunity for cultural exchange, including education, arts and theatre links.

Shanxi, in north China, is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the ancient city of Pingyao. It also boasts the Pagoda of Fogong Temple, built in 1056 during the Liao Dynasty, as well as the Yungang Grottoes – shallow caves with more than 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddhas and Boddhisattva.

Meanwhile, Derbyshire offers Peak District scenery and attractions such as Crich Tramway Museum, Dovedale, Matlock Bath and Swadlincote’s Sharpe’s Pottery Museum.

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