Byline: MATT WITHERS
FIRST Minister Carwyn Jones is to lead a major trade and education mission to China next week, the Welsh Government announced yesterday.
Mr Jones will travel to Beijing and Chongqing, meeting Chinese ministers, businesses and academic institutions, and will be joined by a delegation of Welsh business and academic representatives.
The aim will be to raise the profile of Wales as a business destination and place to invest, the Government said.
But it ran into immediate controversy with one of his party's own AMs urging the First Minister to raise human rights abuses in China with his hosts. Business delegates travelling with Mr Jones will include representatives from the Wales Aerospace Forum, the Welsh Automotive Forum, the Welsh Optoelectronics Forum and the Life Sciences Sector.
Higher education institutions which will be represented include Cardiff, Swansea, Glamorgan, Glyndwr, Bangor and Newport universities.
Mr Jones said yesterday: "Our relationship with China will be vital to the future of Wales. I am delighted to be visiting the country to build on our business, cultural and education links.
"It is essential that the Welsh Government and Wales' business and education organisations continue to do all they can to develop and advance our relationship with China. Only by promoting ourselves abroad can we look for opportunities to grow our economy and academic sector.
"The message I will be taking is simple -Wales is an excellent place in which to locate and do business.We offer excellent opportunities and possibilities for Chinese companies and academic institutions to set up their European operations here in Wales.
"Our academic links go from strength to strength and we have much to learn from each other for mutual benefit."
The mission has been in the pipeline for some time, but timings hit a hitch last week with the prospect of Wales being in the final of the Rugby World Cup this weekend. …