Business and cultural ties to be celebrated at West of England’s Chinese New Year banquet

January 10, 2020

Leading figures from the West of England’s business community will gather next month for the region’s annual banquet to mark the Chinese New Year.

Organised by the Bristol and West of England China Bureau, the high-profile event not only celebrates the most important date in the Chinese calendar but acts as a showcase for the strength of the business links between the region and China. 

The banquet – which this year marks the start of the Year of the Rat – is on February 12 at Wong’s Restaurant on Denmark Street, Bristol.

This year it will also celebrate bureau chief executive Dianne Francombe’s OBE, which she received in the recent New Year’s Honours list in recognition of her services to UK/China relations.

Dianne, who has led the Bristol and West of England China Bureau since 2011, was among a group of business leaders recognised for “truly exceptional and outstanding service to international trade, investment and exporting” in the honours.

She said: “Our event brings together civic dignitaries, representatives of businesses and organisations engaging with China, students and scholars and enthusiastic supporters of China.

“It is a wonderful platform to celebrate the Chinese New Year, experience Chinese culture and a wonderful Chinese banquet while engaging in conversation and learning about the level of engagement there is between our region and China across all aspects of business.

“We are optimistic that relationships with China will strengthen during the next year. The West of England is continuing to forge partnerships with China and the Bureau is at the heart of what is happening.”

Dianne described being notified of her OBE had been a “total shock”. She said it was the result of 30 years of engagement with China – stretching back to the time when she was director of admissions at the then Bristol Polytechnic in the 1980s.

“I was bowled over by China the first time I visited in 1989. After going to Hong Kong I did a short tour of the mainland which took in Beijing, Xian and what was then Canton, later re-named Guangzhou, and left a piece of my heart there,she said.

“Since then China has always exerted a pull on me and the love affair – and the ties and relationships between Bristol and China, especially its sister city Guangzhou – have continued to strengthen.”

Guest speaker at last year’s Chinese New Year banquet was Madame Bao Ling, minister counsellor for economic and commercial at the Chinese Embassy in London.

Tickets to this year’s banquet are limited due to a change of venue. To reserve one immediately visit

Pictured: Flashback to last year’s Chinese New Year banquet. From left, Lord Mayor of Bristol Cleo Lake, Dianne Francombe of Bristol and West of England China Bureau, and Madame Bao Ling



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