Stoke-on-Trent and Jingdezhen Strike Up Historic Partnership
Two ceramic cities have recently signed an agreement to work in partnership for the future.
Two ceramic cities have recently signed an agreement to work in partnership for the future. Stoke-on-Trent, England, the birthplace of Wedgwood and Spode, and the Chinese city of Jingdezhen, which has a ceramics heritage stretching 1,700 years and is responsible for the coining of the phrase “china” to describe fine porcelain ware, have forged the alliance.
Jingdezhen Deputy Mayor Li Zhenfa and Stoke-on-Trent Lord Mayor Anthony Munday signed the partnership during a ceremony at the newly created Spode Museum Trust visitor center, in front of a range of rare English blue bone china that will go on formal display at the former Spode factory site in Stoke-on-Trent beginning next month. The economic partnership agreement, which recognizes strong historical and cultural ties, commits the cities to: develop exchange opportunities for students and entrepreneurs; encourage joint projects between universities and institutes of learning, including Staffordshire University and the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute; encourage investors to support economic growth in both cities; and identify opportunities to establish joint ventures between companies based in both cities.
“This agreement is an historic moment,” said Munday. “It builds on strong ties and exchange visits developed by the two cities over a number of years, which was previously led by my predecessor as Lord Mayor, Councillor Jean Bowers. There is already a natural alliance between the two cities. We share a common focus on the incredible value of culture and heritage. We share a common bond of friendship and interest, with cultural and civic links between our two centers of learning and enterprise.”
China’s State Council named Jingdezhen one of its first 24 “historical and cultural” cities. It is known as China’s “porcelain capital,” with a thriving industrial economy. In ancient times, Jingdezhen was known as Changnan, and provided the name “china” for the ceramic production technique that helped to put Stoke-on-Trent in the seat of the industrial revolution and the western world’s engine house of international ceramics production since the 18th century.
“Both of our cities are ceramic centers and our economies have both experienced growth,” said Zhenfa. “Our relationship with Stoke-on-Trent has really grown since 2004, and visits between the two cities have become frequent. Personally, I see the benefit of this agreement as threefold: it helps to promote exchanges between businesses and people; it is a win-win for cooperation and relationship building; and Chinese enterprises are seeking opportunities to expand their scale. We encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Stoke-on-Trent, and have set up a joint enterprise exchange that will have benefits in expanding new markets.”
“This partnership reinforces friendship based on mutual respect, through the development of ever deeper bonds of trade and enterprise,” said Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education and economy. “It uses both of our cities’ positions as two of the world’s pre-eminent ceramic centers to drive a future of common trade and enterprise. It is a wonderful opportunity for local businesses and it will help them to reach new markets, particularly the affluent Chinese middle classes. Discussions are already taking place with regards to showcasing our city’s pottery at Tao Xi Chuan—a major urban, mixed-use regeneration project in Jingdezhen.”
For more information, visit www.stoke.gov.uk.