Business / Economy

Manchester hopes president's visit will bring benefits

By Moody and Cecily Liu ( Updated: 2015-10-24 09:52

As President Xi Jinping spent a day at Manchester on Friday, anticipation and excitement in the city grew as to what may come after his visit. Although a cradle of the Industrial Revolution, the northern hub, which vies with Birmingham to be the UK's second city, is best known now for its soccer clubs-and one of them, Manchester City, hosted Xi.

The cotton mills are now part of Manchester's past, and although the city was for a long time the biggest financial center after London, it has been transformed over the past decade.

The BBC's move to Media City at Salford Quays beginning in 2007 created the foundation for a significant digital and creative industries sector.

The city that lays claim to have given birth to the computer-Alan Turing's "baby" machine is on display at the Museum of Science and Technology in Manchester-is now making advances in new-materials technology.

The National Graphene Institute at Manchester University, which researches the one-atom-thick wonder material, was also on Xi's itinerary.

Perhaps of most interest was in what the Chinese president said about Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne's pet Northern Powerhouse project.

Wayne Jones, the new president of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and also managing director of engine-maker MAN Diesel UK in Stockport, Greater Manchester, said Chinese help in this area could be vital.

"If you look at other countries, commuting 35 miles to work is not insurmountable but here it is. China has a great track record in transport infrastructure, not only in China but also in places like Africa," he said.

The biggest Chinese involvement in the city is the 800 million pound ($1.2 billion) joint venture between State-owned Beijing Construction Engineering Group and UK construction company Carillion to build Airport City, a new commercial and logistics area next to the city's airport. It will be completed over the next 10 to 15 years and create 16,000 jobs.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive officer of Manchester Airport, said BCEG's international capabilities made it stand out in the bidding process.

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