Letter: For Wakefield to cut ties with Nanning City would be irresponsible and costly

In light of the report by the Wakefield Express regarding Wakefield's relationship with Chinese cities, I would like to make a clear statement on how I see the current relationship.

By Samantha Harvey
Sunday, 20th September 2020, 12:30 pm
Wakefield signed a friendship agreement with Nanning City in May 2019.
Wakefield signed a friendship agreement with Nanning City in May 2019.

First and foremost, I believe that this needs to be a debate held at the national level, given the strained state of Sino-British relations.

The friendship agreement between us and the two partner cities in China is one of many within the UK, and it should be allowed to continue, as it involves people from both our cultures to form meaningful connections through cultural exchange, education, development, trade, and investment.

Secondly, I want to speak on a personal level. I left China about 26 years ago, and most of my adult life I have lived and worked in Wakefield.

I do not have any evidence to suggest that the claims of human rights abuse are founded.

Furthermore, I do not want to be pulled into verifying the human rights record of the Chinese government.

My concerns are solely on developing the civic links between the cities in China, and our city in West Yorkshire.

I believe if the local authorities make a hasty decision to cut the ties it could have a large impact on us, such as on the children who attend schools that run Chinese culture programs.

Similarly effected could be those who depend on trade links, like small businesses.

Recently, our friendship city, Nanning, has directly helped us during this global pandemic by supplying bulk orders of PPE.

To cut ties with them now would be both irresponsible and potentially costly to us, culturally and economically.

I want to let it be known that I am available to make use of my bilingualism and translation skills, if anyone in our community would like to air any genuine concerns about human rights issues in China.

Councillor Sam Harvey, Conservative member for Wakefield Rural