The trip to Manchester came on the last day of the President’s State visit to the UK.
On Thursday night the Chinese leader stopped for a pint and a photo call with Prime Minister David Cameron at an Oxfordshire Pub. Talks and dinner with the Prime Minister at his home at Chequers followed and then President Xi boarded an Air China flight from Heathrow and arrived at Manchester Airport at about 11pm last night.
Today (Friday, 23 October) saw a hectic round of engagements in Manchester. First the Chinese leader was joined by Chancellor George Osborne for a tour of the Graphene Institute.
Then Prime Minister David Cameron did the honours as President Xi visited the Etihad Stadium and the National Football Museum. Crowds gathered throughout the morning in Albert Square to see the President as he arrived for a lunch at Manchester Town Hall which was attended by political and business leaders and community representatives.
The President then made a speech during a brief visit to Manchester Airport – which has seen a major investment from China into its £800 million Airport City project – before flying out of the UK.
Speaking before the four-day State visit to the UK, the Prime Minister had said:
‘‘This is going to be a very important moment for British-Chinese relations. Trade and investment between our two nations is growing and our people-to-people links are strong. This visit will be an opportunity to review all of these things but also talk about how the UK and China can work together on global issues such as climate change and tackling poverty. It’s a real opportunity to deepen our relationship.’’
Today, to coincide with President Xi’s visit to Manchester, the Prime Minister’s Office at No 10 announced the following:
• Hainan Airlines announcing the first direct flights from Manchester Airport to China – the first outside London. The deal is estimated to provide a £50 million boost to the Manchester economy and open up links from China into the Northern Powerhouse.
• Beijing Construction and Engineering Group (BCEG) being appointed as main contractor for the Middlewood Locks regeneration project in Manchester.
• As announced on the Chancellor’s visit to China last month, Hualing Group is signing an agreement with UK real estate company Scarborough Group International to invest in 3 major regeneration projects in the north: Middlewood Locks in Manchester, Thorpe Park in Leeds and Sheffield Digital Campus.
• The University of Central Lancashire establishing a joint innovation and entrepreneurship competition with the Shenzhen government in south eastern China
• Uppingham School in Rutland setting up 5 schools in China in a partnership with Hainan Airline and Tourism Group.
• Hong Kong based company Netdragon Websoft finalising the acquisition of the educational supplies company Promethean World Plc, based in Blackburn, for £84.8 million, securing 671 jobs.
The Chinese leader’s visit is said to have seen more than £30 billion worth of trade and investment deals completed, creating over 3,900 jobs across the UK. The visit is also expected to boost UK exports to China.