New sculpture celebrates 15th anniversary of Bristol’s twinning with city in southern China

September 30 2016

A Kapok flower sculpture has been unveiled at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden in Stoke Bishop. It marks the 15th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Bristol and Guangzhou in southern China, which continues to develop and strengthen.

Flower ceremony

A Kapok flower sculpture has been unveiled at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden in Stoke Bishop. It marks the 15th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Bristol and Guangzhou in southern China, which continues to develop and strengthen.

The two-metre-high steel flower sculpture, which is a gift from Wen Guohui, Mayor of Guangzhou, was unveiled at the Chinese herbal garden. It was designed by Chinese artists Li Ming, Li Xiongfei and Zhang Haipeng.

The Kapok flower is the official flower of Guangzhou, China’s third largest city, and its people have used its cotton to make clothes and its flowers as medicine. Later in the year, a Shaun the Sheep sculpture will be gifted to Guangzhou from Bristol, sponsored by the University of Bristol.

The partnership was cemented in 2001 when a sister city agreement was signed and it was further strengthened in 2013 through the signing of a new Bilateral Agreement between the two city governments.  Both agreements were facilitated by the Bristol & West of England China Bureau (B&WoECB). 

Councillor Jeff Lovell, Lord Mayor of Bristol and Chairman of the B&WoECB attended the unveiling of the sculpture. He said: “It was an enormous pleasure to meet our friends from Guangzhou and I would like to thank Mayor Wen Guohui for his generous gift in celebration of our longstanding friendship.   

“Twinning is about much more than building cultural links – it also provides the building blocks of trade and investment links and brings wider benefits to businesses, institutions, organisations and individuals.” 

Dr Erik Lithander, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) of the University of Bristol, added: “The University is fortunate to have a strong international community, which includes high-achieving students from many countries. China is one of these and the Bristol China Partnership is helping to develop great friendships with the citizens of Guangzhou and the people of China. 

“Having a strong relationship with Guangzhou is a fantastic benefit to the city and helps the University to build strong education and collaborative research links.”

Dianne Francombe, CEO of B&WoECB, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating 15 years of UK-Sino relations between Bristol & West of England and Guangzhou. The strong friendship which we have developed will act as an excellent platform to connect our two cities through business, education, sport and culture.”

In 2014 Bristol’s drive to use digital technology to improve the lives of residents was recognised at the International Award for Urban Innovation during an event hosted by the Guangzhou Municipal Government in China.

Bristol was chosen because of the ‘citizen-centric’ approach to its Smart City programme, which uses innovative ICT and digital solutions to tackle major local issues including climate change, air quality, health and well-being and socio-economic deprivation between areas of the city.

In April 2016, there was an announcement that the Sino-Singaporean Guangzhou Knowledge City would be setting up an office in Bristol this year to support the development of business and research links.

Both Bristol and Guangzhou are keen to see that the sister relationship is used to develop opportunities for more young residents and students to study and work abroad.