This morning I attended a breakfast launch of the Manchester China Forum held at the Chinese Arts Centre in the Northern Quarter, which, Peter Bazalgette told us, was “as well known in China as the Tate”.
The idea for the forum is to increase Manchester’s commercial connectivity with China. Founding partners include BT, Manchester Airports Group (which is shortly to commence direct flights to China) and Peel Group. Given that MMU has aspirations to engage with promising international organisations and establish them as key accounts, this forum looks spot on for us.
So, apart from getting cramp (we were standing around for over two hours) and doing some valuable networking whilst enjoying dim sum from the Yang Sing, what happened?
These are the highlights:
The Chancellor, George Osborne, talked of the second industrial revolution taking place in the East (of the world, presumably, unless something more is going on in Norfolk than I’m aware of). This, he said, should be viewed as an opportunity: both to bring people out of poverty and as a new market. Specifically, he wanted to make sure that the Chinese can go on holiday on planes with British-made parts and engines made by Rolls Royce, that Chinese students come to the University of Manchester (apparently not MMU) and he wants Manchester to lead this second industrial revolution through clever and strategic initiatives such as the forum, which “the Government will support 100%”.
Lord Wei of Shoreditch (who is the first Chinese-origin UK citizen to become a Lord) told us that 60% of global GDP growth is from Chinese cities.
To finish us off, Consul General Pan Yundong told us that this was the first city-based forum and that it could offer a timely launch-pad to build on China’s amazing growth: in the early Eighties, he said, China had an economy that was only half the size of California’s; since then 17 million people had been lifted out of poverty.
So, an interesting way to spend Friday morning and definitely something with which we need to stay connected.