Twelve countries have established consular offices in Chongqing, and more than 300 Fortune 500 companies have settled in Chongqing. The number of foreign friends who come to Chongqing to study, work and live has increased recently. They have witnessed the development of Chongqing and participated in building a dynamic opening-up city. What does Chongqing look like in their vision? What developments are their concern? The Foreign Affairs Office of the Municipal Government has initiated the interview series “Foreign Consulate Officials Talking about Chongqing” and “Foreign Friends Telling Chongqing Stories.” Relevant interviews will be launched to show the “multifaceted Chongqing” from foreign friends’ perspectives.
On June 24, iChongqing interviewed Mr. Stephen Ellison, the British Consul General in Chongqing. He shared his vision of Chongqing, looked forward to the prospects of cooperation between the UK and Chongqing, and previewed the status of the UK’s participation in this year’s Smart China Expo. Upcoming activities will be held by the consulate.
On November 16, 2020, Stephen assumed the position of British Consul General in Chongqing. But this is not his first time in this city. As early as ten years ago, he has been here and worked in a Sino-British joint venture established in Chongqing.
“Chongqing is a big city for my first impression,” he said. To his surprise, the city has developed so fast and expanded in a decade. It has grown rapidly in infrastructure and become more confident, open, international, full of ambitions for future development.
Downtown Chongqing is where the Yangtze River meets the Jialing River, and the city is surrounded by mountains. This unique nature landscape gives this city outstanding urban characters.
Currently, the national strategy for constructing the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle in the southwest region promotes the coordinated development of Sichuan and Chongqing. What opportunities will this bring to the exchanges between Sichuan, Chongqing, and the UK? Stephen said that Chongqing and Chengdu are both ambitiously advancing this strategy to jointly build the economic engine of western China, which also brings opportunities for cooperation between the two places and the UK in the fields of infrastructure, services, and scientific research.
He said that at this stage, the construction of the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle first focuses on infrastructure construction, and the UK’s experience in infrastructure operation and maintenance can be shared. In the service industries such as health care and education, many companies in the UK can participate in, especially the architectural design of the UK will have a lot of room for development. In addition, the other core of the economic circle related to scientific research is also worthy of continued discussion with the UK.
Due to the impact of the pandemic, the consulate general has held many online exchange activities in the southwest region. With China’s good control of the epidemic, this year is gradually moving offline. In the second half of this year, Stephen said that the British Consulate-General would carry out a series of exchange activities in Southwest China.
He highlighted that this year’s Smart China Expo would also be held offline, providing Chinese and foreign companies with opportunities for face-to-face communication. Many British companies are looking forward to participating, especially those in western China and Chongqing, hoping to explore new cooperation through this platform.
Stephen revealed that the British National Pavilion would continue to be set up at the SCE this year to focus on showing British companies in the field of smart technology. A special forum by the UK consulate general will also be held. A special press conference will be held to share the UK’s top and most cutting-edge technology, the latest research results, and technological products, and showcase examples of Sino-British business cooperation.
He introduced that the United Kingdom will host the 26th United Nations Climate Conference this year. China will also hold the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, Yunnan. The British Consulate General in Chongqing will also host a series of events. Some public activities on the two global topics of “climate change” and “biodiversity” have already been carried out and will continue.
Before engaging in diplomatic work, Stephen was a bridge engineer. Chongqing is known as the “Bridge Capital” in China, whereas he was surprised to learn that more than 14,000 bridges and tunnels have been built here. “The bridges I have seen are partial. The most impressive ones are the Dongshuimen Bridge and Qiansimen Bridge, located on the Yuzhong Peninsula. They go across the Yangtze River and the Jialing River” he said that the design of the two bridges is very similar. On this point, Chongqing’s urban traffic has been improved. On the other hand, the bridge itself is also very well designed.
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