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Thursday, March 02, 2000, updated at 09:26(GMT+8)


Britain Opens Consulate General in Southwest China

A British consulate general in southwestern China's Chongqing City, one of China's four municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of the Central Government, opened Wednesday.

The first consul general Ms Carma Elliot said at the opening ceremony that the British side has noticed the special political status and ever increasing economic radiation capacity of the city, and the purpose of setting up the Consulate General is to enhance the cooperation and exchange between the two sides.

"We are responding to the Chinese government's policies to develop this vast and increasingly important area," said British ambassador to China Anthony Galsworthy, adding that "that needs us to have a personal presence in the region. The new consulate will act as a hub for all our activities in the southwest."

"Our main role will be to provide commercial and consular services to south-western China", said Carma Elliot.

Elliot noted that there are also plans to open a separate Cultural and Education Office in the summer to run programs of cultural exchanges and help Chinese people considering applying to study in Britain.

The city became the fourth municipality under direct jurisdiction of the central government in 1997, and the central government has provided many preferential policies and capital in order to develop the city into a economic hub on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

More and more foreign investors are being attracted by the city. Up to date, nearly 30 of the 500 biggest enterprises in the world have invested in the city.

British firms have strengthened cooperation with their counterparts in Chongqing. Three years ago, BP Amoco founded the Yangtze River Acetyls jointly with China Petrochemical Corp and Chongqing City at a total joint investment of 250 million U.S. dollars, a project involving the largest British investment in inland China.

Britain's Department for International Development is also working with the Chinese side in and around Chongqing to implement sustainable development projects. These projects intend to increase access to basic health services in poor and rural areas, help local governments combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, and contribute to improving water supplies.

Britain is the first European country to open a Consulate General in the city. Japan and Canada opened a consulate office and a consulate in Chongqing respectively in 1998.

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