We have worked with the Ulster Scots Agency to explore the connections between Ulster and China. Our journey of discovery took us back centuries and showed just how important and positive the impact that people from here made in China. An exhibition was designed to fit with the existing permanent display in the Discover Ulster Scots Centre.

The exhibition was designed to provide a tantalising taste of the historical and cultural links between China and Northern Ireland, spanning from the diplomatic missions of Lord McCartney to the influential legacy of Sir Robert Hart. Hosted at both the Chinese Resource Centre and Discover Ulster Scots Centres, the exhibition offered visitors a comprehensive overview of the enduring connections and shared experiences that have shaped the relationship between these two rcountries over the centuries.

Lord McCartney’s Diplomatic Mission:

The exhibition commenced with a focus on the groundbreaking diplomatic mission of Lord McCartney in 1793, which marked one of the earliest official interactions between Britain and China. Through the display panels visitors gained insight into McCartney’s historic journey to the Qing Empire, highlighting the early beginnings of cultural exchange and trade relations between China and the United Kingdom.



Industrial Revolution and Trade Ties:

Moving forward in time, the exhibition explored the pivotal role of Northern Ireland in maritime de elopements and trade routes of the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors learned about the impact of economic links and early trade pioneers like Sir Robert Cowan. 

Legacy of Sir Robert Hart:

A central focus of the exhibition was the legacy of Sir Robert Hart, a native of Northern Ireland who played a pivotal role in shaping China’s modernisation efforts during the late Qing dynasty. Visitors discovered Hart’s remarkable contributions as the Inspector General of China’s Imperial Maritime Customs Service, highlighting his deep love for and positive role in China

Cultural Exchange and Mutual Understanding:

Throughout the exhibition, emphasis was placed on the cultural exchange and mutual understanding that have flourished between China and Northern Ireland over the centuries. From Chinese students studying in Northern Irish universities today to cultural events and artistic collaborations, we hope the exhibition will prompt visitors to discover a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of connections that continue to thrive between these distant yet interconnected regions.

Our Cultural Connections Exhibition also explored how we are linked by foot, fashion and folk traditions. Through the stories of visionary diplomats like Lord McCartney and trailblazing individuals like Sir Henry Pottinger the founding father of Hong Kong, visitors will appreciate a more nuanced understanding of the enduring legacy of collaboration and exchange that continues to shape the relationship between Ulster and China. 

It is a first step which we hope will whet the appetite of both communities to explore more. We believe the exhibition renewed appreciation for the interconnectedness of our world and the importance of fostering mutual respect and understanding across cultures.