Weihai is a coastal city on the north east edge of the Shandong Peninsular of the People’s Republic of China. Surrounded by sea on three sides with a coastline of almost 1000km. It has developed as a major seaport and is the largest fishery production base in China.
Weihai City has a population of around 600,000. However the total population of the city and the area it administers approaches 2.9 million. Weihai features hot mineral springs and this, together with its maritime climate of mild winters and moderate summers, its attractive mountain scenery and good beaches, make it a famous summer resort and tourist centre, attracting visitors from all over China and the world.
Liugong Island just off the coast of Weihai is home to historic buildings such as the headquarters of the Chinese Navy dating from the 19th century and buildings relating to Weihai’s lease to the British from 1898-1930, which include displays about the British residents’ time there. There is also a small zoo with pandas.
Industry in Weihai is well developed, with over 1,400 industrial enterprises. Emphasis recently has been the development of high-end industrial parks, specialising in carbon fibre, pharmacology and medical equipment. It is the largest manufacturer of fishing rods in the world. Weihai is also a rich and fertile agricultural area and grows wheat, maize, peanuts, apples and soft fruit. It is a scientific and educational centre, with more than 50 scientific research institutes and eleven universities.
In October 2018, the Mayor of Cheltenham, Councillor Bernard Fisher, led a party of people from the town on a touristic, cultural and educational visit to Weihai. The group visited the Ivy International School and the Weihai Vocational College receiving a warm welcome by students and staff of both establishments. Other nearby sites of interest visited included Dongchu Island, an historic fishing seaweed village and the Fahua Temple on Chishan Mountain.
Other visits to Weihai have included Gloucestershire primary and secondary head teachers, funded by the British Council, which led to the establishment of valuable educational links with Weihai schools for our local young people. Pre-pandemic, annual groups of Weihai students came to Gloucestershire College’s international summer schools to improve their English and stay with local families.
An official delegation from Weihai also came to Cheltenham on the occasion of the Olympic Torch Relay event in May 2012 at Cheltenham Racecourse.
The Weihai Link is a long-established Cheltenham group which supports the twinning link with Weihai through educational and friendship links and holds social events and talks. One such event was a talk and film about the role of the Chinese Labour Corps’ role in World War I. More than 100,000 local men were recruited by the British Commission in Shandong Province and Weihai.
2022 marks 35 years of twining links between the two towns and a collection of photographs from both towns is being collated to celebrate the occasion.