MP's 'one-man trip' to boost China link
POTTERIES MP Tristram Hunt is taking a one-man delegation to the 'Stoke-on-Trent of China'.
He flew out to the Far East at the weekend and will initially spend time at the UK China Leadership Forum, alongside political heavyweights like Peter Mandelson.
The forum is aimed at stimulating trade and building greater links between the two countries, with China being the world's fastest growing economy and a vital new market for British businesses.
But during his stay in Asia, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central also plans to head off on a solo trip to Jingdezhen, China's pottery capital.
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Dr Hunt said: "I thought it would be useful to head to the porcelain capital of China, Jingdezhen, which is like the Stoke-on-Trent of China.
"I'm taking out a flagon of Wade whiskey and a letter from the Lord Mayor and I'm going to be a one-man delegation.
"The Potteries Museum had an exhibition last year about Jingdezhen and I want to keep up the links with Stoke-on-Trent.
"If they are thinking about investing in Europe, I'd like them to think about Stoke-on-Trent, and also to see if there is any work our businesses could do for them."
According to historical records, Xinping, as the city used to be known, began to make pottery during the Han Dynasty.
In the first year in Jingde Reign of Song Dynasty, 1004, the royal court decreed the city made porcelain wares for imperial use with the wording, 'made during the Jingde Reign', printed on every piece.
That gave the city its modern name, Jingdezhen. Throughout the ages, a succession of emperors sent their officials to Jingdezhen to supervise the manufacture of royal porcelain.
In a similar fashion, Stoke-on-Trent became the centre of the pottery trade in Britain as manufacturers like Josiah Wedgwood, Josiah Spode and Thomas Minton built factories in the six towns.
Matthew Dimbleby, who runs Trentham-based ceramics firm Daisy Dimbleby with his wife Rachel, said: "If there was a market to export our products, that would be something we would be interested in.
"China is a growing market and every year it has built up. Up to now our market has mainly been in the UK, but we are going to be doing the Spring Fair and it will be interesting to see the reaction of international buyers.
"Companies likes Portmeirion and Emma Bridgewater have continued to do very well keeping manufacturing in Stoke-on-Trent and we hope to follow on from their success.
"Hopefully, Tristram can push the Stoke-on-Trent brand."