Belfast an International City

Belfast as a port city has always had an international feel and has thrived on building links with the world. Today Belfast City Council are deeply involved in building these partnerships and we believe that local international communities should be at the heart of that outreach.

From long established communities like the Jewish, Italian and Chinese to the more recent Eastern European communities we all have a role to play helping our new home country build bridges to others.

Belfast City Council has been a great partner and we hope that that work will continue. Thet=y are currently involved in:

EU and International relations

We’re building international relationships across Europe, USA and China in order to attract investment, encourage trade and develop our tourism, cultural and educational links.

We also collaborate with a number of key institutions in the city including universities and colleges, international consulates, Belfast Chamber of Commerce, the British Council, government departments including The Executive Office, Invest Northern Ireland, Visit Belfast, the NI Executive Office in Brussels, the Special European Programmes Body and potential investors.

Links to our key stakeholders are provided below.

All of these partnerships enable the European and International Relations unit to provide connectivity and service within the city and internationally.


Belfast's membership of EUROCITIES and strong links with the European Union (EU) help us to secure funding, promote Belfast across Europe, and influence EU policy development.

We're working with Dublin City Council to explore the potential of the 100 mile Belfast-Dublin economic corridor to improve transport connections and boost trade.


Belfast is a Sister City of Boston, Nashville (USA) and Shenyang (China) which allows us to strengthen trade, investment, tourism, cultural and educational links.

Organisation Website (link opens in new window) Contact
All Consulates in Belfast and NI (Consulate Association NI) (List of all Consulates in NI with contact details)

028 9187 4697
Belfast Chamber of Commerce 028 9033 1399
Belfast Metropolitan College (International) 028 9026 5025
Eurocities +3225520888
International Relations Queen’s University 028 9097 5088
International Relations Ulster University 028 9036 8220
Invest Northern Ireland 0800 181 4422
NI Bureau Washington +1 (202) 674 3874
NI Connections 0800 181 4422
NI Executive Office Brussels +32 2 290 13 30
SEUPB Belfast 028 9026 6660
St Mary’s University College (International) 028 9032 7678
Stranmillis College (International) 028 9038 4255
The British Council Belfast +44 (0)161 957 7755
The Northern Ireland Executive Office 028 9037 8151
Tourism Ireland 028 7035 9200
Tourism NI 028 9023 1221
Visit Belfast 028 9023 9026

Chinese New Year - A New Start

The projects initial concept was to use the Chinese New Year to host a virtual international event with Belfast’s sister city in China. This we achieved and gave us online resources which we have utilised in the current Belfast City Council funded project. This ‘Digital Multiply’ project gave us more time to plan and consider how technology can be used across our operations to address the digital divide . It allowed us to develop our online facilities to ‘host’ events and ‘produce’ virtual spaces which were designed to be used by older people. 

The spaces were specially designed to replicate in a virtual format the Chinese Resource Centre in Belfast which is the hub of the Chinese Community. 

Many of our older members were key players in the work  to achieve a Centre and they see it as their greatest achievement. This meant that as age, disability and then COVID isolation prevented them from using even visiting the Centre there was a real sense of loss. Using technology we have allowed them to revisit and start to reuse the Centre in a virtual way using  hand held devises. 

The project allowed us to involve older people in a safe way and expose them to technology and its benefits effecting a culture shift in the organisation. 

CWA Attend Invest NI Conference

CWA and local businesses they work with attended the first International Export Conference on China hosted by Invest NI. The high profile conference was hosted virtually and aimed to help local companies do business with China.  Words of encouragement from  local Government Minister for the Economy Gordon Lyons set the tone for the conference.

Mr Lyons was appointed Minister for the Economy on 06 July 2021. His responsibilities include economic policy, higher and further education, employment and skills programmes, employment rights, consumer affairs, energy, telecoms, tourism, minerals and petroleum, European Fund management, Insolvency Service, Credit Unions and Societies, and statistics and economic research. he made it clear that China is still a priority market for Northern Ireland and outlined how local businesses will be assisted.

China was represented by Meifang Zhang the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Belfast. She outlined the relationship between our countries and the opportunities China had to offer.

Appointed Consul General of China in Belfast in 2018, Mme Meifang ZHANG started her diplomatic career as an official interpreter and translator in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). She served respectively in the political and bilateral section of the Chinese Embassy in France and Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations in New York. She later became Special Assistant to former Vice Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Qian Qichen, and served as Deputy Consul General in the Chinese Consulate General in Toronto and New York.

Organised and hosted by Invest Northern Ireland

Session ONE | Northern Ireland’s export vision

9:30am - 10:00am

Comfort Break

10:01am - 10:14am

Session TWO | Exporting and doing business in China - Education

10:15am - 11:35am

SESSION 1 Recording


Ties to China Develop

On 8 June, First Minister the Rt. Hon. Peter D Robinson, MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, MLA met with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi at Stormont Castle ahead of the inauguration ceremony of the Chinese Consulate in Belfast.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th June 2015 -
First Minister Peter Robinson, and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, today met with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi at Stormont Castle ahead of the inauguration Ceremony of the Chinese Consulate in Belfast.
Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Speaking after their meeting with Minister Wang Yi the First Minister Peter Robinson:

I am delighted to welcome Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Belfast. Over recent years Northern Ireland has developed a strong and increasingly positive relationship and bond with partners in China. This will be further enhanced with the establishment of the Consulate in Belfast.

In April 2012, Vice-Premier Madame Liu Yandong visited Belfast and launched the Confucius Institute which has flourished and developed remarkably. As a result, eight classroom hubs have been established and thousands of local children in over one hundred schools are learning the Mandarin language and about Chinese culture, as part of the Confucius programme. These relationships have brought considerable mutual benefit to students and teachers in both our regions.

We are hopeful that this will extend to agriculture, economic cooperation and increased trade. The potential for Northern Ireland companies to prosper in the Chinese marketplace is endless. Invest NI recognises this opportunity and has established offices in Beijing and Shanghai. Along with the Executive Bureau in Beijing, this represents a long term commitment by the Northern Ireland Executive to develop and grow our relationship with China.

The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said:

I welcome Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the new Consulate in Belfast. This is a very exciting development for all of us in the north of Ireland with the Chinese government demonstrating a firm commitment by establishing a Consulate here led by Madam Consul-General Wang.

We are keen to strengthen government to government relations and to further develop, trade, investment, cultural and education links with China. Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill, has just returned from a hugely positive visit to Beijing. The developments in the agricultural sector have been helped by the invaluable work of the Bureau with the Chinese Government in Beijing, the Consulate in Belfast and the Chinese Friendship Association.

Our relationship with China continues to grow and we look forward to working with China to help create jobs, promote prosperity and at the same time promote mutual understanding of our different cultures.Northern Ireland Ties with China

Good Relations Week

Good Relations Week 2021 takes place from will run from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th September 2021.

This year we have re-introduced physical events, alongside an expanded virtual offering.

The theme is ‘Brighter Days Ahead’ as we shine a light on the peace building and cultural diversity efforts of young people and the challenges they are facing.

Our programme of inspiring community relations events will celebrate the work of people and communities in creating and sustaining good relations.

Huge thanks to all local groups and organisations who’ve helped us put together a dynamic programme of highly impactful events for you to enjoy

Whatever you do, don’t miss it!

Good Relations Week 2021 will celebrate the peace building and cultural diversity efforts of young people and the challenges they face with a creative programme of over 200 cross-community and multicultural events. Co-ordinated by the Community Relations Council, Good Relations Week 2021 will run from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th September with a highly impactful programme of over 200 face-to-face events, virtual events and online content. For more information on the Good Relations Week 2021 programme of events visit
Pictured with Peter Day from the Community Relations Council (front, left) and Clare Kearney (front, right) and Conor Valente (front, centre) from the Belfast Skate Collective, a local group that is providing a voice for the skating community, is local skaters Nicole Smallwood; Adam Patton, Caleb Court, James Ferris, Taylor Allen, Reuben Hughes, James Hannigan, Jake Murray and Matt McCopippin.

It s a Walk in the Park

A new ‘Civic Dollars’ mobile phone app, developed with support from Belfast City Council and the Department of Justice means that people can now earn rewards for the time they spend in their local parks and open spaces.

The Connswater Community Greenway will be the first area to go live in the free pilot scheme, followed by other parks across the city. Funded through the ‘Amazing Spaces, Smart Places’ project, the scheme is part of the council’s Smart Belfast programme, which is exploring how data and innovative technologies can create smart solutions for urban challenges and help to improve city services.

Lord Mayor Councillor Kate Nicholl said: “Exercising outside and connecting with nature really can help our mental wellbeing. So it’s fantastic that, thanks to this pilot scheme, people can now earn Civic Dollars for the time they spend in our parks and open spaces.  They can enjoy rewards including Translink DayLink passes and tickets to visitor attractions or support their local community group by donating Civic Dollars to them.

“The Civic Dollars app also provides a promotional platform for local businesses, services and events - and the insights we’ll gather will help us to better understand how people use green spaces, improve park management, reduce vandalism, littering and anti-social behaviour and enhance the visitor experience.”

A number of Belfast-based community groups can benefit from donated Civic Dollars, exchanging them for various services such as business training, professional advice and activity centre sessions.

The ‘Amazing Spaces, Smart Places’ project is jointly funded by Belfast City Council and the Department of Justice via the Department for the Economy’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), which enables the public sector to tap into new ideas and technologies created by innovative local businesses. It also gives innovators a great opportunity to trial and test their prototype in a supportive real-world environment as part of their product development.

Justice Minister, Naomi Long said: “Effectively managing public open spaces is a key element in developing a safe community, where we respect the law and each other.

“The Civic Dollars pilot scheme holds the potential to deliver real benefits to local communities by using technology to improve the safe use of our parks and open spaces; something that is so important for both physical and mental health. Congratulations to all involved in this innovative pilot scheme and I look forward to hearing how it has progressed as more people use it in the coming weeks and months.”

Stephen McPeake, CEO of local company Moai Digital Ltd and creator of the Civic Dollars app, added:“It’s been fantastic to have this opportunity to apply a tech based solution to Belfast City Council’s challenge of better managing their parks and open spaces.  And it’s wonderful to know that local people, businesses and community groups will all benefit as a result when people download and use the Civic Dollars app.  Life these days is about so much more than just money – it’s about improving our communities, and our own health and wellbeing – Civic Dollars provides the perfect solution with a new social currency. It’s a win win all round!”

The CivicDollars app can be downloaded free from the App Store or Google Play Store.  The pilot will run until the end of Summer 2021.

For more information about the project, visit

You can now earn rewards every time you visit Waterworks, Falls and Ormeau Parks by downloading the CivicDollars app.
They're the latest green spaces to join our Smart Belfast project, co-funded with the Department of Justice through the Department for the Economy’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).
Sign up to get one 'dollar' for every 30 minutes spent in the popular spaces - running, walking, cycling or just meeting up with mates!
Then swap your rewards for Translink day passes, tickets to visitor attractions and more, or earn extra dollars by reporting issues like littering or vandalism.
The scheme is already up and running along Connswater Community Greenway where it's proven a big hit, with lots of users also donating their dollars to local community groups who can, in turn, use them for free training and other services.
Download the free Civic Dollars app now from the App Store or Google Play Store.

We are Good To Go

Finding Wee Paddy

In our I in NI Programme we have been exploring the links between Northern Ireland and China down through the centuries. From Lord McCartney the County Antrim aristocrat and first British diplomat to China to today's trade and tourism exchanges we have more links than we often realise. In Northern Ireland's recent Decade of Centenaries the impact of the First World War on society, culture and even our place in the world has been explored. China interestingly was our ally in that war, and contributed massively through the Chinese Labour Corps.

Between the wars British soldiers were stationed in Hong Kong and when Japan invaded China they were sent to China to stop thew Japanese advance. Based in Shanghai the Royal Ulster Rifles, a regiment raised in Northern Ireland helped to protect an area of Shanghai and offered humanitarian aid to the local Chinese population. They even broke their own orders to engage the Japanese forces in order to protect Chinese civilians as they fled the fighting.

In August 1937, the 1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles was moved at twenty-four hours notice from Hong Kong to Shanghai on emergency deployment following the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Battalion's task was to assist with the protection of the International Settlement. The British frontage extended for five miles and there was much to be done. Military posts had to be re-designed or re-constructed and wire fences erected. Refugees had to be controlled and internal security maintained. The perimeter wire was well outside the Settlement boundary and the area between was policed by a Chinese force responsible only to their own Government.

Five Riflemen were killed by the Japanese during three separate incidents. On 24 October, Rifleman McGowan was killed on duty at Outpost Q on Keswick Road by fire from a Japanese aircraft. On the 29 October, Japanese shells killed Riflemen Mellon and Howard at the outpost near Jessfield Station and Delaney, who was with them, died of his wounds on 31 October. Also killed that day, by a Japanese shell that hit the Honeyland Bar where he was off duty, was Rifleman O’Toole.

The Northern Ireland soldiers were buried in Shangai with the local Chinese population attending the funerals which were said to be the largest seen win the city. The incidents caused international outrage and made the front page of the New York Times as well as local Belfast papers.

In recent years the Neice of one of the Riflemen Paddy McGowan determined to find his grave and the poignant story has become the subject of a local film "Finding Wee Paddy". It tells the story of Paddy and his act of heroism saving local Chinese civilians. Then how in recent years efforts by his family the British and Chinese Governments as well as historians and the community have helped to locate his final resting place.




Gift to the Sudanese Community

At the end of Ramadan, we had the pleasure of presenting some vouchers to support vulnerable families in the Sudanese community. We hope that we will have many more opportunities to work with SCNI in the future.

(Abubaker Khalifa CWA Finance officer,  Mutasim Suliman and Mohamed Musa - Sudanese Community Northern Ireland, William Olphert Managing Director of Chinese Welfare Association)

Mindful Walking Training



Last month CWA held some training at a local park coordinated by our South Belfast BME Link worker Camilla Reynolds.

Information packs and resources were distributed.

If you would like to find out more about our programmes and the newly established BME WhatsApp Walk Leading Group, please do get in touch.


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