Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will tour Birmingham’s MG Rover plant during his visit to the UK. City Councillers have claimed the visit highlights the economic strength of the region.
Officially recognised as one of most powerful men in the world, leading a country that is among the biggest and fastest growing in the world, the visit commands a huge amount of meaning. The West Midlands is a centre of manufacturing in the UK, home to Jaguar Land Rover and MG Rover.
Mr Jiabao is landing at Birmingham Airport and visiting the Shanghai Automotive-owned MG Motor plant at Longbridge, where he will see the launch of the new MG6 Magnette.
Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said: “Chinese businesses will compare – why should they invest in the UK, not France, Germany or other economies? We really need to identify flagship projects and high-speed rail might be one of them.”
“As ambassador I have been to Birmingham several times. I have learned firsthand how Birmingham has built on its heritage to create one of the most vibrant cities of Europe. I have seen for myself the strengths of Birmingham as an industrial and education centre. I’m confident that the ties between China and Birmingham will continue to flourish, he added.
His arrival is claimed by Birmingham council leaders as recognition of more intimate ties between Birmingham and China regarding business interests, following the sale of MG Rover to Shanghai Automotive and a series of trade, political and ceremonial visits. Since the sale, MG Rover has experienced a growth in sales that has boosted the car manufacturer’s profits significantly.
City Council leader Mike Whitby said: “This visit is an endorsement from the very top of the Chinese state of the importance of the relationship between Birmingham and China.” He added: “Over the last seven years we have made great strides to ensure Birmingham’s connections with China were prioritised and enriched, helping to build a strong relationship for this city with a growing economic superpower.”