Mutual Interests Can Be Catalyst for Growth Here and in China; Postbusiness with the Chinese Premier Set to Visit Birmingham, the City Is Seen by Many to Be Winning the Race to Partner with the Emerging Superpower. Ahead of the Visit, Liu Xiaoming, Ambassador of China to the UK, Writes Exclusively in the Birmingham Post about Links between the City and the New Industrial Powerhouse

Article excerpt

Byline: Liu Xiaoming

hinese people know about the proud heritage of Birmingham.

CIn their school textbooks Chinese students learn that Birmingham was the city where the industrial revolution in Britain began. They read that in Birmingham James Watt developed the steam engine into a machine that transformed the world.

In my role as Chinese Ambassador to the UK, I have been to Birmingham several times. I have learned first hand how Birmingham has built on its heritage to create one of the most vibrant cities of Europe. Council leader Mike Whitby proudly told me about the city's leadership in sports and culture, and I have seen for myself the strengths of Birmingham as an industrial and education centre. I have seen the impressive University of Birmingham and visited the remodeled downtown area of the city with recreational, conference and exhibition, sports and tourist facilities. I have admired leading businesses such as Grayson Thermal Systems and Brandauer precision pressings.

My most recent visit to Birmingham was at the launch of the MG6 GT in the MG Longbridge plant. There to witness the event were the top leaders of Shanghai and Birmingham, Yu Zhengsheng and Mike Whitby The MG6 showcases the spirit of corporate responsibility as Chinese businesses seek to go global. In 2005 the Nanjing Automobile Company (NAC), purchased the assets of the MG Rover Group. In turn SAIC took over NAC in 2007. Both NAC and SAIC decided to maintain MG's Longbridge facility as an engineering and design centre. The facility employs about 400 people and is now moving back into production.

This means the famous Longbridge plant is increasingly contributing to local job creation and economic development.

The MG6 is made possible through the new concept of "designed in the UK, produced in China and assembled in the UK". It is a splendid example of the burgeoning China-UK business collaboration and complementary strengths.

China-UK relations have also been marked by a continuous progress. There has been a deepening dialogue in recent years. For example, China and Britain have established the 'comprehensive strategic partnership'.

There are a host of exchange mechanisms at senior levels. Examples of these are the annual Prime Minister's meeting, the economic and financial dialogue and the strategic dialogue. We have seen positive and productive cooperation in areas such as business, education, culture, science and technology. If we compare China-UK exchanges and partnership as a magnificent painting, Birmingham is fully capable of adding many more key brush strokes. I believe these are what Birmingham can contribute.

First, seize the opportunities of China-UK trade and investment cooperation. According to economists in the UK, China is in the midst of an 'industrial revolution', which may have 20 years to run.

So how can Birmingham benefit from this? One step is to study for opportunities using the recently published Chinese 12th five-year plan. This gives a guide to economic development in China. It compares with the plan the UK has formulated with a development strategy for the medium to long term.

Both the Chinese plan and the UK strategy give priority to economic restructuring and economic growth. In addition both are committed to promoting two-way trade and investment. The Prime Ministers of China and the UK have together set the goal of doubling our trade by 2015 to reach $100 billion. …