Welsh Affairs Committee Press Notice 07-08

Session 2007-08

14 November 2007

Committee Media Officer: Rebecca Jones
tel: 020 7219 5693

Press Notice No 2


The Welsh Affairs Committee has visited China as part of its inquiry into globalisation and its impact on Wales. Members visited Shanghai and the Special Economic Zone of Xiamen in the southern province of Fujian.

The Committee’s aim was to examine China’s impact on Welsh employment patterns and prospects and to engage with Chinese universities and Chinese graduates of Welsh universities to understand better the global forces operating on both countries.

Education and skills, and the role of Universities in maximising the opportunities presented by globalisation, have been a constant theme of the inquiry so far. Committee members were keen to explore this further and met with Chinese alumni from Welsh Universities and visited the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai. In southern China the delegation visited Xiamen University, twinned with Cardiff University since 1983. The Committee was impressed by the importance the Universities gave to the requirements of local businesses and by their ability to respond flexibly to the demand for highly specialised and skilled professionals.

The Committee visited a number of UK-based avionics companies with operations in Xiamen, including Premium Aircraft Interiors Ltd in Xiamen which also has an operation in Cwmbran. The delegation heard how establishing an operation in China is vital if companies want to access its vast domestic market. Failing to do so will lead to the loss of significant opportunities for Welsh businesses.

The Chinese economy has developed from a mainly manufacturing base towards high-end service provision. This trend is supported by an impressive network of innovation centres (techniums) with the aim of attracting and supporting new and innovative businesses. The Committee visited the Fudan University Science Park in Shanghai, which has close links with the Swansea Technium, and the Hi-Tech Innovation Centre in Xiamen. The Committee noted that Welsh Techniums offer a unique platform to attract Chinese companies to invest in Wales as a route into an expanding European market.

Chairman of the Committee Dr Hywel Francis MP said:

“The most striking part of our visit to China was becoming aware of the current scale and pace of change. We also saw many examples of a workforce that is increasingly skilled, flexible, adaptable and hard-working.

The importance attached to universities and skills was impressive. We witnessed a great respect for learning and saw how ‘Confucius Institutes’ are now being established worldwide in favoured overseas universities, including Cardiff. Consolidating existing links and establishing new ones between Welsh and Chinese universities is vital to ensure that education remains the key to harnessing globalisation.”


Committee Membership is as follows: Dr Hywel Francis MP (Chairman), Mr Stephen Crabb MP, David T. C. Davies MP, Nia Griffith MP, Mrs Siân C. James MP, Mr David Jones MP, Mr Martyn Jones MP, Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, Albert Owen MP, Mr Hywel Williams MP, Mark Williams MP

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