Links between the cities of Swansea and Wuhan date back to 1855 when Swansea missionary Griffith John founded the Wuhan Union Hospital.
This relationship was strengthened when representatives of the two cities signed an agreement to cooperate in trade, transport and logistics, culture and sports, tourism and education.
A sister city agreement signed in 2018 cemented the relationship and will allow the cities to learn from each other and share best practice in a range of areas. Swansea University has a long established partnership with the Wuhan Union Hospital and has developed collaborations in teaching, recruitment and research with a number of the city's universities.
The University's unique connection to Wuhan has allowed it to bring together health experts from across Wales with some of the first medics to tackle coronavirus.
A series of conferences between representatives from Welsh health boards and senior doctors at Wuhan Union Hospital have given Welsh clinicians currently the chance to share experiences and learn from staff who dealt with COVID-19 at its earliest stages. The most recent conference, in December 2020 was attended by the British Ambassador in China, Caroline Wilson CMG who was visiting Wuhan at the time.
In 2014 a Swansea-Wuhan Joint Medical Centre was set up with the Wuhan Union Hospital. The Centre will promote clinical and life sciences research, and build student and staff exchanges and education collaborations through the annual Medical Forum, the UKChina Medical Association, publications and collaborative projects.
In 2015 Swansea University hosted the 2nd UK-China Medical Forum which provided medical experts from the UK and China the opportunity to exchange knowledge on topics including bone diseases, gynaecological cancers and 3D printing technology for tissue regeneration.
China-UK Friendship Hospital
Building on the long-standing relationship betwtween Swansea and Wuhan Union Hospital, representatives on both sides met in 2019 to discuss the establishment of a China-UK Friendship Hospital in Wuhan.
The proposed project will further strengthen links between the cities of Swansea and Wuhan and will support collaborations in medical education, research, training and student exchange.
It will also provide a new base for the for the Swansea-Wuhan Joint Medical Centre as well as other new joint facilities.
The capital of Hubei province, Wuhan is an important centre of trade, finance, transportation, IT and education.
It is home to 35 higher education institutions including Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) and Wuhan University, both recognised as Class A Double First Class Universities.
In common with Swansea, metal manufacture has played an important role in Wuhan’s economy, and alongside this, major industries now include optic-electronics, motor manufacturing, biological engineering, pharmaceuticals and environmental protection.
Swansea missionary Griffith John set sail for China in 1855 at the age of 24. He served in China for 55 years, during which time he set up schools, training colleges and hospitals, including the Wuhan Union Hospital.
Now one of the biggest hospitals in China, Wuhan Union Hospital has more than 5,000 inpatient beds and treats over three million patients annually. It is also home to a joint medical centre with Swansea University which was opened in 2018. A bust of Griffith John by the sculptor Xiang Jinguo, which was gifted to Swansea by the Union Hospital, is on display at Swansea Museum.