Mon­go­lia – our next part­ner?

Now KCC eyes in­ter­na­tional links with Chi­nese prov­ince

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? - by Paul Fran­cis pfran­cis@thek­m­

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

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