CHINESE government officials have been on a fact-finding mission to Basingstoke.

The delegation from Wenzhou Municipal Committee, from Zhejiang Province in eastern China, met the leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Councillor Andrew Finney, at the town centre offices of URS Scott Wilson.

Hosting the meeting was Geoff French, who is chair- man of the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership.

Pleased with how the “exploratory meeting” went, the former chairman of Scott Wilson has had extensive experience in working in China.

The engineering consultancy firm employs around 700 people in China, with offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai among other cities.

Mr French said: “I think we gave the delegation a very good description of what Basingstoke has to offer and the general economic strength of the town, and the great environment and countryside that surrounds the town – I think they got that picture loud and clear.”

Delighted with the meeting, which was set up at the request of the Chinese, Cllr Finney said: “I think the great thing is that it proves that we are beginning to succeed in getting Basingstoke onto the world map.”

During the meeting, the delegation learned that the borough is already home to a major high technology name from China, Huawei.

“A number of the delegates were surprised that Huawei is here,” said Cllr Finney.“Maybe now they know that Huawei is here that will be another factor that will help them encourage other business to come here.”

During the meeting, the delegation watched a DVD giving an overview of Basingstoke and were given copies to take back with them.

Cllr Finney said: “It showed what a great place Basingstoke and Deane is to live, work and play, and to do busi- ness.”

The DVD showed last summer’s World Party in the Park, held in Eastrop Park, which included Chi- nese lion dancing.

“When they saw that, their eyes lit up,” said Cllr Finney, who said that knowing that Basingstoke is a place where different cultures are celebra- ted and accepted would be reassuring for prospective overseas investors.

Delegation leader Gao Yuting, who is deputy chairman of Wenzhou Municipal Committee of the CPPCC, summed up the meeting saying: “Basingstoke is a good place to live and to work.”

He said he was impressed by the large number, and diversity, of businesses that are in Basingstoke, and felt there was real merit in continuing dialogue to see how things could be carried forward to create closer links and to encourage business both ways.