MAYOR John Burt and council chief executive Anthony Schinck travelled to China last week and struck up a new Asian partnership.
The City of Ballarat leaders spent two-and-a-half days in Yangzhou, China for a League of Historical Cities board meeting.
Cr Burt said officials from Yangzhou approached them with a proposal to develop economic, commercial, educational and social opportunities between the two cities.
The cities signed an official memorandum of understanding.
Cr Burt said the agreement came as an unexpected but exciting outcome of the visit.
“They were very keen for us to further develop the potential of what we can provide in industry and primary produce, for example wine was mentioned,” Cr Burt said.
“There is an incredible potential and they just love what we do in Australia.”
Cr Burt said Ballarat was a sitting member of the League of Historical Cities board.
The board met in China to organise the next League of Historical Cities world conference, set to be staged in Yangzhou in 2014.
“We were a significant player in organising what form the conference will take,” Cr Burt said.
The trip was paid for by the host city, he said.
Cr Burt and Mr Schinck will also join a five-person, five-day delegation to Japan next month to mark the 25th anniversary of Ballarat’s sister city relationship with Inagawa.
The $35,000 price tag will be picked up by Ballarat ratepayers.
Mr Schinck justified the spend as part of “an ongoing cultural exchange” with Inagawa that had been in place for 25 years.
But the Ballarat Residents and Ratepayers Association has joined calls for the council to scale down the delegation from five to two representatives.