Prince William is second in line for the British throne after his father, Charles, Prince of Wales. William and Catherine Middleton were made Duke and Duchess of Cambridge by the queen on their marriage on April 29, 2011. Their first child, Prince George, was born on July 22, 2013. In September, it was announced that they are expecting their second child, who will be fourth in line for the throne.
Barbara Janet Woodward was appointed British ambassador to China in August. She worked in Beijing from 2003 to 2009, first as political counselor and then dealing broadly with the UK-China relationship as deputy ambassador from 2007 to 2009, including during the Olympics. She also worked on economic and security aspects of foreign policy in Russia from 1994 to 1998, as well as at the European Union and UN. She earned a master's degree in history from St Andrews University in 1983, and in international relations from Yale in 1990.
It will be the first visit to the Chinese mainland by a member of the British royal family in almost three decades.
One of the highlights of William's visit will be the Great Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, where he will highlight Britain's contributions to commercial creativity, Woodward said at a Chinese New Year reception, according to sources at the event.
The festival, based at Shanghai's Long Museum, West Bund, runs from March 2 to 4 and will be led by the prince. It will show UK innovation at its best in sectors such as fashion, luxury retail, health, technology and entertainment, and seek opportunities for UK companies to break into China.
The prince is also likely to visit a Shanghai research and development center of Huawei, the telecommunications network and services provider.
A wildlife conservationist, Prince William will also head to Southwest China's Yunnan province to visit wild elephants and promote wildlife protection, Woodward said.
That news has already received a warm welcome on Sina Weibo, China's popular Twitter-like micro blog service. Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who is pregnant, is unlikely to accompany the prince. She is due to give birth to their second child in April.
Dozens of business leaders from Chinese and British companies joined the New Year's reception hosted by London & Partners, the city's official promotional company. Woodward also said she will take up her appointment on Feb 19 and start making preparations for the prince's visit. She was named ambassador in August.
In 1986, Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip and a royal entourage of 50 visited China at the invitation of former leader Deng Xiaoping. The queen visited China's centuries-old wonders, including the Great Wall and Xi'an, the ancient capital, as well as Kunming, Shanghai and Guangdong.
Tian Dewen, a European studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the prince's visit will contribute to the improvement of China-UK relations.
"Royal visits are an important part of the UK's diplomatic effort to build its global image. Prince William's visit at this point shows the UK's willingness to improve its ties with China," Tian said. "But as with past royal visits, we should not expect any political moves. I assume he will mainly focus, as usual, on global topics like wildlife protection."
Last year, the 10th year since the establishment of the China-Britain comprehensive strategic partnership, saw a warming trend in the bilateral relationship. Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the UK in June yielded several achievements, including cooperation in nuclear power and high-speed rail, the establishment of London's first yuan clearing bank, the start of direct trading between the two countries' currencies and Britain's simplification of the visa application process for Chinese visitors.
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