Belfast Telegraph

Foster meets top Chinese ministers in Shanghai to help promote NI tourism

By Adrian Rutherford

Arlene Foster has kick-started her visit to China with a series of high-level meetings.

The First Minister was in Shanghai yesterday, where she met the Chinese ministers of education, culture and finance, as part of the UK-China People to People 2016 initiative.

Mrs Foster is on a four-day visit to the country, where she has pledged to promote economic, learning and cultural opportunities for Northern Ireland.

She said: "The People to People dialogue provided a valuable opportunity to brief senior Chinese ministers on our world-class education system and the incredible opportunities for Chinese students.

"As part of that important dialogue, I discussed our tourism product. Although we have already surpassed the target of 50,000 tourists from China this year, we want to see this figure continue to rise.

"In the last few days alone, Belfast's iconic Titanic Belfast attraction has been crowned the World's Leading Tourist Attraction. This fantastic achievement once again puts the global spotlight on Northern Ireland, and is further proof of our ability to deliver on a worldwide scale."

Today, the First Minister will meet with Friends of Northern Ireland.

It was established in 2015 in Shanghai by a number of diaspora working in China, who wanted to maintain connections with and, help promote, local businesses in the country.

The First Minister will also meet with Mr Song Jingwu, vice-president of China People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. Given the size and complexity of China, Northern Ireland's strategy focuses on developing productive relations at a provincial level.

Mrs Foster added: "I look forward to a very informative and useful meeting with vice-president Song, where I can take the opportunity to thank him for our deeply-valued help and support of the friendship association. I intend to discuss work in areas of mutual interest and also explore partnership opportunities with Liaoning, which has a population of 43 million people."

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