An in principle agreement has been reached to establish diplomatic ties between Gunnedah Shire Council and a Chinese province.
The Friendly Exchanges Relationship was approved by council this month to formalise connections to Yinzhou District in Ningbo, China.
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey said the agreement was similar to a sister-city exchange and will assist both sides of the international divide.
“It will certainly help develop more economic and social opportunities,” Mr Chaffey said.
High on council’s social development priority list is tourism and the possibility of a student exchange.
The agreement coincides with Gunnedah’s imminent trade mission to China. The delegation of community, council and business representatives was due to depart Australia on Saturday.
Council anticipated similar requests from other Chinese districts during the tour and agreed to authorise Cr Chaffey to sign additional reciprocal relationships, should they present.
In principle financial support, limited to civic events and cultural gifts as hosts of returning Chinese delegations, was also agreed to by council.
In a letter of invitation from Yinzhou District governor, Chen Guojun, relationships were sought in fields including but not limited to administration, economy, trade, agriculture, culture, art and education.
It also states: “Leaders and relevant departments of both sides will constantly keep in touch and visit each other so as to negotiate on matters of exchanges and co-operation as well as issues of common concern.
“Both parties will make joint efforts to proactively promote exchanges and co-operation and further improve their friendship.”
Gunnedah hosted a delegation from China in May last year, which visited orchard grower Robert and Fiona Hoddle. The Chinese visitors were also briefed on local cotton harvesting and bull breeding, followed by entertainment by Gunnedah Conservatorium.