ARARAT - Council, business and community representatives are currently part of a delegation visiting China this week.
Many people question council's regular trips to China and the benefit they have for Ararat.
Ararat has had a 25 year relationship with China and in particular Sister City Taishan and while it has been a long and delicate process, it is beginning to pay off, both culturally, educationally and economically.
Ten small businesses who are part of the Grampians Pyrenees Wine Co-Operative are now seeing the fruits of their labour, with two container loads of premium wine sold into China over the past two years.
Educationally, a program instigated many years ago now sees Ballarat University teaching students regularly spend time in Taishan teaching at the Taishan No 1 High School and broadening their horizons.
Many Ararat families have hosted Taishan teachers over the years who have lived and worked in our community and enriched the learning experiences of our children.
Yes, there are some costs associated with sending delegations, but not as much as one would imagine, with the various Chinese governments generously and regularly sponsoring many aspects of the visits.
As one who was part of a delegation in 2010 when the Ararat Gold Shiraz was launched in Taishan I gained first hand knowledge of the value of Ararat's ongoing relationship with Taishan and China.
Ararat is highly regarded and our people loved and respected, I'll never forget the 'rock star' status our small delegation attained among the 3000 students and teachers at Taishan No 1 High School.
If we look beyond our small municipality's borders we can be enriched in many ways by our relationship with China.