Prince William coming to China

Prince William coming to China

Britain's Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, is scheduled to visit Beijing, Shanghai and Yunnan province starting on March 1, the incoming British ambassador to China, Barbara Janet Woodward, announced on Wednesday in London.

It will be the first visit to the Chinese mainland by a member of the British royal family in almost three decades.

One of the highlights of William's visit will be the Great Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, where he will highlight Britain's contributions to commercial creativity, Woodward said at a Chinese New Year reception, according to sources at the event.

The festival, based at Shanghai's Long Museum, West Bund, runs from March 2 to 4 and will be led by the prince. It will show UK innovation at its best in sectors such as fashion, luxury retail, health, technology and entertainment, and seek opportunities for UK companies to break into China.

The prince is also likely to visit a Shanghai research and development centre of Huawei, the telecommunications network and services provider.

A wildlife conservationist, Prince William will also head to Southwest China's Yunnan province to visit wild elephants and promote wildlife protection, Woodward said.

That news has already received a warm welcome on Sina Weibo, China's popular Twitter-like micro blog service. Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who is pregnant, is unlikely to accompany the prince. She is due to give birth to their second child in April.

Dozens of business leaders from Chinese and British companies joined the New Year's reception hosted by London & Partners, the city's official promotional company. Woodward also said she will take up her appointment on Feb 19 and start making preparations for the prince's visit. She was named ambassador in August.

In 1986, Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip and a royal entourage of 50 visited China at the invitation of former leader Deng Xiaoping. The queen visited China's centuries-old wonders, including the Great Wall and Xi'an, the ancient capital, as well as Kunming, Shanghai and Guangdong.

Tian Dewen, a European studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the prince's visit will contribute to the improvement of China-UK relations.

"Royal visits are an important part of the UK's diplomatic effort to build its global image. Prince William's visit at this point shows the UK's willingness to improve its ties with China," Tian said. "But as with past royal visits, we should not expect any political moves. I assume he will mainly focus, as usual, on global topics like wildlife protection."

Last year, the 10th year since the establishment of the China-Britain comprehensive strategic partnership, saw a warming trend in the bilateral relationship. Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the UK in June yielded several achievements, including cooperation in nuclear power and high-speed rail, the establishment of London's first yuan clearing bank, the start of direct trading between the two countries' currencies and Britain's simplification of the visa application process for Chinese visitors.

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