03/22/2012 05:04 EDT | Updated 05/22/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. education minister signs China deal while teachers at home fuming

VICTORIA - B.C.'s education minister has signed an agreement with a Chinese university to pave the way for sharing ideas and creating an exchange program between the two jurisdictions.

George Abbott has been in Beijing trying to increase the number of foreign students studying in the province and to create B.C.-certified schools in China.

He says the signed memorandum of understanding will strengthen ties with southern China and also make it possible for both regions to learn from each other about teacher development, teaching, and assessment methods.

A delegation from China came to Vancouver last year to sign a similar deal that would promote B.C. as a destination for Chinese students.

Abbott is returning home next week to face a continuing battle with B.C. teachers, who are angry about back-to-work legislation while they were trying to negotiate a contract with the government.

The teachers' union wants a 15 per cent wage hike while the province isn't offering other public sector workers any pay increases.