Newcastle and Gateshead at sundown showing Gateshead Millennium Bridge and Tyne Bridges. Photo: iStock/Getty Images

China’s cheek-by-jowl involvement in the UK’s Northern Powerhouse economic growth initiative continued in the last week of October, with a series of government and business meetings held in both countries.

In addition to the Manchester-China Economics Conference – that heard that Chinese investments totaling US$3 billion had come to the north of England since the start of the so-called “golden era” between the two countries – a local government delegation representing Liverpool City region visited China’s western city of Kunming, while key companies and regional government bodies from the northeast of England met in the city of Newcastle to develop a strategy to encourage more Chinese investment into the region.

The Newcastle event brought together 22 of the region’s leading property companies and business organizations and included Hanro Ltd, Highbridge Properties PLC, Bradley Hall, UK Land Estates, Adderstone Group, Bilfinger GVA and Arch, the Northumberland Development Company, as well as the UK government’s Department of International Trade, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Newcastle City Council and the China-British Association.

The roundtable discussions were hosted by design and engineering company Atkins and were supported by Invest North East England and Invest Newcastle.

The northeast is already well known for Japanese investment … We need to build on this success and broaden the appeal to other global investors to achieve future infrastructure goals

Bill Huang, director of Chinese investor relations at Atkins, said he hoped the event would help bring the region increased prominence in China. “The northeast is already well known for Japanese investment, with Nissan being the area’s largest private employer. We need to build on this success and broaden the appeal to other global investors to achieve future infrastructure goals,” said Huang.

At the same time as the Newcastle event, a government delegation from Liverpool City Region traveled to the Chinese city of Kunming to sign a memorandum of understanding that will see Liverpool take a pavilion at the 2017 China-South Asia Expo, while Kunming will design and install a garden as part of Liverpool’s plans to redevelop the city’s Garden Festival site on the banks of the River Mersey.

The Garden Festival redevelopment plans come in conjunction with Liverpool’s US$250 million rebuilding of the city’s Chinatown, known locally as Europe’s oldest Chinese community.

The plans for the new Chinatown were presented to Chinese president Xi Jinping during his visit to the UK in 2014 as a key component of the Northern Powerhouse initiative that include 850 new homes, 150,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, and a new hotel.

Construction work is just starting on the site with the first stage of the project due to be complete before the end of 2017 and the overall scheme set to be finished in 2019. The project has been funded with Chinese investment.

More Sino-UK business events are planned in the UK this year including in the northern regions of the Tees Valley and Cumbria.

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