This week has seen Chinese President Xi Jinping embark on a state trip to the UK. Whilst his first stop was the country’s capital to meet the Royal Family and explore the city, there was only one other place to visit: Manchester.
In the last decade, Manchester has seen large amounts of foreign investment being pumped into its economy in the form of various regeneration projects such as Airport City. In line with his Northern Powerhouse campaign, which aims at rebalancing the economy by narrowing the economic North-South divide, Chancellor George Osborne recently visited China to illustrate to investors the potential held in the North of England.
As a result, Xi Jinping made his way down to Manchester accompanied by David Cameron to visit the likes of the Manchester City Football Academy, the National Football Museum, Manchester Town Hall as well as Manchester Airport. President Jinping’s visit is linked to a substantial amount of investment into the UK’s ‘second city’. In line with the president’s visit this weekend, Manchester Airport (in collaboration with Chinese firm Hainan Airlines) is now launching its first ever direct flight from Manchester to China – a deal expected to boost the local economy by as much as £50m.
This deal is only one of many significant collaboration agreements between the two countries, which will be spread across a variety of sectors such as economy, trade, investment, infrastructure, scientific innovation, manufacturing and sport. Prime Minister David Cameron commented: “China is a key trading partner for the UK and the partnerships being made today will see real investment going into the North”.
Xi Jinping’s visit to the North of England was also highly anticipated by the Chinese, as Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, put it: “This State Visit will usher in a ‘Golden Era’ of China-UK friendship and co-operation at the local levels in cities like Manchester”.
An increased number of Chinese investments into the Northern Powerhouse, particularly into thriving areas like Manchester, will have enormous advantages for the city as a whole. Not only does it mean a boost to the local economy, but it will also enhance the region’s infrastructure (both local and international) and thus attract more businesses and professionals to the city. It is safe to say that Manchester is set for a bright future, a future that will be greatly enhanced by its ever-strengthening ties with Chinese investors.