Mongolia – our next partner?
Now KCC eyes international links with Chinese province
political editor WHAT do these two landscapes have in common?
In one red poppies dance in the breeze in the beautiful Kent countryside.
In the other the Mongolian town of Bayankhongor sits on a barren and wind-blown plain.
Mongolia is the birthplace of Ghengis Khan, has a population of about 23 million people and is renowned for its extensive natural grassland.
It is also about 5,000 miles away from Kent.
But it has emerged Kent County Council is investigating forging business and cultural links with the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia.
The possible partnership with the region is set out in an annual report detailing the activities of KCC’s international affairs unit in 2007-2008.
The idea was broached by the Chinese Ambassador Fu Ying, a former student of the University of Kent who is keen to build relations between the two. Council chiefs have not yet decided whether to press ahead.
Nevertheless, the annual report indicates KCC’s enthusiasm for doing business abroad shows no sign of diminishing in 2008 with council officials and politicians embarking on travels to America, Canada and Europe for conferences, trade missions and factfinding visits. Last year KCC’s international activities were dominated by its links with Virginia, America and spending on trips cost more than £35,000.
In September, Tanya Oliver, KCC’s director of strategic development and public access, visited Toronto “on a fact-finding exercise to see examples of Telehealth technology being used in community sites.”
September also saw a weeklong fact-finding visit to Beijing by Chris Hespe, KCC’s head of sport, leisure and Olympics.
In April, a delegation of council and Kent Police officials travelled to Richmond in Canada at the invitation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force.
The purpose was to “gain frontline understanding of Richmond’s approach to community well-being, crime prevention and their youth and restorative justice systems” and followed an earlier visit by Canadian Mounties to Kent.
And in February, KCC was represented at a United Nations seminar in New York on Citizenship in Future Cities and Settlements.
This month, chief executive Peter Gilroy will address a health conference in Ottawa, Canada to “share KCC’s latest developments in innovation and best practice”.
The report does not disclose the costs of any of the trips or whether any of those costs were met by other sources.
Kent countryside poppies and the Mongolian landscape – 5,000 miles apart but potential business and cultural partners