According to a new report, two years of direct flights between Manchester Airport and Beijing have contributed to significant levels of growth in trade, tourism and knowledge exchange between China and the North of England.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to Manchester was nearly three years ago. Since then, Chinese companies have been increasing their investments in the North of England. This has marked a “golden era” of relations between China and the North.
An independent study was conducted at the British Embassy in Beijing by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham. It concludes that direct flights between China and Manchester have opened great avenues for social, cultural and economic growth.
Direct Beijing Flights Create Significant Benefits for Manchester, North England
The findings of the study by independent consultants Steer Davis Gleave include:
- A 38% increase in the number of Chinese visitors to the North since 2016 – a growth rate higher than both London and the UK average (30%)
- The average spend per visit in the North West increased by 94% to £2,167, 5% higher than the national average
- The number of Chinese students in Greater Manchester has grown 9% in two years vs national growth of 4%
- A 114% increase in Northern students gaining Chinese internships, with more than 70% from low income backgrounds
- The Manchester-Beijing route has grown faster than any other UK-China route that has been in operation for more than 12 months
- Export values from Manchester Airport to China grew 41% to £1.29bn in the two years after route launch, while national values fell 30%.
Announcement of the Manchester-Beijing route with Hainan Airlines was made by President Xi during his visit to the UK in 2015. The service started in June 2016.
The flight route has now been operationally active for two years. It has shown a remarkable impact on the economy spreading across new parts of the North and benefiting more people and businesses than ever before.
Chinese Businesses Creating Job Opportunities in Manchester
Enquiries from Chinese businesses interested in setting up companies in the UK in the first year have now been converted in the second year. This has created a multitude of jobs in key sectors such as life sciences, energy and infrastructure.
Chinese investors have been investing hundreds of billions of pounds into huge infrastructure schemes and projects in Greater Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Lancashire. Chinese investors are lapping up the opportunity to create a niche and reap dividends by investing in the Northern Powerhouse.
Manchester Property Market Chinese Interest up 53.8%
As the Chinese investment in the Northern Powerhouse continues to increase, it is estimated that in 10 years the economic impact of Chinese investors to Manchester will be worth £500m, up from £250m. Interest is being generated particularly in the Manchester property market.
Juwai.com is an online portal for Chinese investors looking to buy property abroad. They reported that in November 2017, the number of Chinese enquiries into Manchester property was 53.8% higher than the same month last year.
Speaking about China’s investment in the Northern Powerhouse, Nate Dudhill, Associate Director at Alliance Investments said, “The direct flight between Manchester and Beijing is fostering strong connections between the two nations and will catapult major strategic collaborations in the years to come.”
Two-Way Benefits as UK Students Intern in China
Further, there is a major surge in the number of UK-based students from low income backgrounds who have been given the opportunity to complete internships in China. There has also been an increase in the number of world-leading academics keen to carry out research at Northern Universities over the past year.
Speaking on a range of subjects including smart cities, healthcare and green manufacturing, Mr. Burnham launched the report ahead of participating in the World Economic Forum, in Tianjin.
He said, “Greater Manchester has the ambition to sit at the heart of a productive, culturally rich and internationally competitive Northern economy where all parts of the North are benefitting from the social, economic and cultural connections that have forged as a result of the region’s first ever direct service to mainland China.”
The report further exemplifies the power of direct connectivity to fast growing economies like China with the Manchester-Beijing route serving as a catalyst for significant increases in trade and investment, tourism and academic collaboration.