A DELEGATION of Worcestershire decision-makers have been on a fact-finding mission to China - and say the county is well placed to capitalise on Far East investment.

A gang of ambassadors, led by Worcester MP Robin Walker, went to southern China on a week-long mission to Hezhou and Huizhou, two major cities.

The gathering, which also included the leader of Worcester City Council Councillor Simon Geraghty and opposition Labour group leader Cllr Adrian Gregson, looked at how Hezhou, which has a population of 1.5 million, is benefitting from rapidly expanding infrastructure.

They met with city leaders and business owners, as well as young Chinese entrepreneurs trying to make a go of it.

Huizhou has a population of more than five million and is upriver from Hong Kong, where the provincial government plans to create superfast rail links between a number of cities the size of Germany.

Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chairman Peter Pawsey was also in tow, with the group making a series of presentations to Chinese investors on the potential of Worcestershire as a foreign base.

Both cities have created 'sister' agreements to carry on exploring investments with the county.

Mr Walker said: "There can be no doubt that the Chinese economy is becoming ever more important to the modern world and what we saw in Southern China reinforces my belief that this country will be a key power and business partner in the decades to come.

"We have already started to see the first investments from China into the UK and I want to make sure that Worcestershire gets its share of that investment.

"We are also seeing a number of businesses, including local Worcestershire businesses beginning to explore the possibilities of exporting to the Chinese market.

"The fact that we now have the potential of not one but two sister city agreements with cities that have a combined population more than ten times that of our whole county shows the enormous potential that is now beginning to open to us."

Mr Pawsey added: "The purpose of the trip was to further business relationships, building on those forged initially through the University of Worcester and seek specific trading and investment opportunities."

Ivan Knezovich, managing director of the West Midlands Safari & Leisure Park, Mike Ashton, chief executive of the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce and Mark Richardson, head of the University of Worcester's business school were also among the group.

Mr Ashton said: "The potential for two-way trade and inward investment in Worcestershire has been massively increased by this visit.

"We have built stronger ties for the future, especially around tourism."