Stephen Ellison kicked off his first official visit to Yunnan

Stephen Ellison, the newly appointed British Consul General in Chongqing, arrived in Kunming on November 2, kicking off his first official visit to Yunnan. 

Stephen Ellison said on November 4 that he was impressed by Yunnan's development and hoped that Yunnan and the UK could deepen exchanges and cooperation in business. The rapid development of Yunnan’s highways, high-speed rails, airports and other infrastructure as well as the significant development of clean energy such as wind and solar energy are all advantages in attracting international business. He said he was glad to see that many British companies, such as DRGO, GDK and some engineering companies, had already operated in Yunnan, and he would encourage more UK businesses to come to Yunnan in the future. On November 2, the Novel Coronavirus vaccine was approved for large-scale use in the UK and Ellison believes this makes it possible for more UK businesses to visit Yunnan.


One particular business area he wants to encourage is tourism because with beautiful scenery and abundant natural resources, Yunnan’s potential for international tourism is very strong.  

From Ellison’s perspective, holding the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a unique opportunity for Yunnan to show its natural beauty, natural resources and huge biodiversity. 


Next year, the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), calling on all countries to work together to limit the temperature rises caused by carbon emissions. Ellison said at least one third of the solutions to the problem were nature based. “For example, the importance of forests on absorbing carbon dioxide, and we know Yunnan’s forests absorb huge amount of carbon dioxide,” he said. As both Yunnan and the UK have responsibility to host important conferences, Ellison said the two sides should strengthen cooperation. “Governments at all levels, non-governmental organizations, businesses, education and academics should work together to face the common challenges of climate change and biodiversity.” 


Ellison is a civil engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry and he was involved in the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a minister Counsellor in the International Trade Department of the UK embassy in China. 

He had worked in China for more than 10 years before he was first known in China for rescuing a drowning girl in Chongqing's Zhongshan Ancient Town on the morning of November 14, 2020. When onlookers filmed the rescue with their mobile phones and uploaded it online, people were moved by him, an elderly foreigner, who did not hesitate to jump into the water to save a girl. After that, he became a web celebrity. A foundation in Chongqing awarded him RMB 50,000, but he donated all the money to charities. When asked about saving the drowning girl, Ellison did not think he was brave , “It was a very simple thing,” he said, “I wasn’t in any danger.”

Before working as the consul general, Ellison has visited Yunnan several times. He went to tiger Leaping Gorge, the first canyon on the Yangtze River, 105 kilometers away from Shangri-La city and 88 kilometers away from Lijiang city, twice. The first time he went with his son and the second time with his daughter. He also told journalists that his favorite Chinese food is Yunnan ghost cheese and fried eggs with flowers.

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(Editors: Alison, Rachel)

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