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Cherwell's set to link with a Chinese 'twin'
CHERWELL is believed to be one of the first districts in the country to forge a twinning link with a city in China.
And youngsters from Xishuangbanna would come to colleges in North Oxfordshire to learn English and take vocational qualifications.
Council leaders hope it could also kick-start trade and promote tourism between the two areas.
Xishuangbanna has links with Austin, Texas, while Banbury is twinned with Ermont, in France, and Hennef, in Germany.
Sir Tony signed a ‘letter of intent’ between the council and Xishuangbanna Dai Nationality Autonomous Prefecture to establish “sister city” status.
Sir Tony said: “I think the whole of the UK, and the world, needs to take on board the size of China and its importance in the world.
“From our perspective it gives us the opportunity of establishing business links with China.
“As with any twinning agreement it’s going to take time to build up relations – it’s what both sides make it.
“But the Chinese have been here, have been to Bicester, they like north Oxfordshire and are very keen to take the twinning arrangement forward.”
“Apart from cities like Bristol, I suspect we are one of the first district areas to be linked to an area of China.”
Delegations from Xishuangbanna and the district will visit their respective twinning partners, he said.
Rose Turner, principal of Banbury and Bicester College, said: “Education is a particular area of interest for the partnership and the agreement signed with Jinghong College will provide fantastic opportunities for staff and students.”
Richard Hunter, chairman of Banbury Chamber of Commerce, said: “Potentially it’s a good idea and seems to have educational benefits.
“Learning Mandarin is an absolutely brilliant idea for kids, especially with youth unemployment, as it could give young people more opportunity to expand their horizons and do business abroad.
“How it will directly affect businesses in Cherwell I don’t know at this stage.”
Cherwell’s executive will be asked on Monday to look at setting up a committee, including outside bodies, to develop the link.
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