Manchester-China Friendship Programme

Mon, 08 Nov 2021 14:36:00 GMT

The Manchester China Institute (MCI) has teamed up with the Manchester China Forum (MCF) and the University's International Office on a new initiative to help integrate new Chinese students into campus life, while simultaneously enriching the campus experience for local students.

The Manchester-China Friendship Programme (MCFP) further seeks to develop mutual understanding and friendships between students of the two nations, particularly important at a time where Covid-related anti-Asian prejudice, discrimination and aggression has increased across the UK.

Speaking of the launch, Director of the MCI, Peter Gries commented: “I am thrilled to learn that the Manchester-China Friendship Programme is now live. With pandemic-enforced travel restrictions and online learning, opportunities for face-to-face interactions between Chinese and British students at Manchester have declined precipitously. Given that China’s diplomatic relations with the UK have become increasingly complex over the past two years, it is ever more important that our students, who will carry UK-China relations forward, have the opportunity to interact while here in Manchester. Better integrating our many Chinese students into the life of our campus will benefit all involved”.

The programme currently consists of Manchester-based “host” students who will build relationships with a larger group of incoming Chinese freshers. The programme officially launched on October 15, when the group joined a walking tour of Manchester organised by Marketing Manchester.

MCI’s external partner, the Manchester China Forum (MCF), is a public-private, special purpose vehicle for driving forward the Manchester-China relationship and fostering high-level engagement and connectivity between the city and China. Alongside the MCI, they will organise a number of exciting events throughout the academic year before an end-of-year ceremony, where the progress of those involved in the programme will be acknowledged.

Rhys Whalley, Executive Director of the Manchester China Forum said: "The Manchester-China Friendship Programme is an exciting opportunity for all Manchester-based students to enhance their understanding of other cultures and forge friendships across borders. Greater Manchester prides itself on its diversity and openness to new arrivals from across the globe and has always enjoyed incredibly strong links with the Chinese community."

"MCFP is a welcome addition that will provide local and international students with a unique opportunity, to take a leading role in developing long-lasting relationships that can serve to enhance mutual understanding between our two countries. This initiative also provides a great way for the City and the University to collaborate further, in promoting the ideals of inclusivity and diversity while at the same time supporting both local and international students in building cultural bridges across borders."

The MCI and its partners hope that this academic year will just be the beginning for the MCFP initiative, and successful, long-lasting relationships can be forged and built upon over the coming years.