We were in China for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Christchurch becoming a sister city to Gansu Province, where of course Rewi Alley spent much of his life.
But now New Zealand's relationship with Southern China and in particular Christchurch's ties will step up a level. We've signed a co-operation agreement with Shenzhen - a deal that has progressed very quickly from a meeting with the Mayor of Shenzhen only four months ago.
Shenzhen is a very front-footed, forward-facing and future-facing city. They are very much focused on companies that are in their growth stages, and now are reaching out to the rest of the world. Our interests are aligned in a significant way, largely shared interests of the region around ICT, research, science and technology - all of which resonates with how we envision the future of Christchurch.
But we've got to learn to trust each other before we can do business together. In New Zealand, you meet somebody, do a deal and shake hands. Done. It doesn't work that way in China, you need to spend time creating and working on relationships. Now that we have a formal entry point with Shenzhen, we've created an opportunity to allow the relationship to flourish.
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Tom Hooper, Head of the Canterbury Development Corporation will help take that next step - he's returning to China in the next few weeks and has already set about establishing a confirmation around a significant visit to Christchurch from a major Chinese company.
• Lianne Dalziel is the Mayor of Christchurch.