NOT engaging with China and the world at Expo 2010 would be a “grave mistake”, say business leaders in Britain and the far east.
Wirral Council is sending officers out to Shanghai at a cost of £28,000, paid out of the Working Neighbourhoods Fund provided by central government to improve economic performance.
And as far as industry chiefs in China are concerned, it’s money very well spent.
Ian Crawford is executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.
He told the News: “Chinese companies are at a point where many are looking to go out into the world.
“They are mainly domestic companies, not even regional companies.
“Their next step in expansion will be to start the process of becoming global companies.
“Smaller, private companies secure in their domestic market, are also looking to expand beyond China, some in support of their export trade.
“UK/China relations have never been better and the UK is arguably the primary location for Chinese companies to enter the European market.”
Ian says Wirral “has a good story to tell”, with quality infrastructure and “pleasant” living conditions that “cost significantly less than London”.
It’s a view shared by Simon MacKinnon, co-founder and vice-chairman of Shanghai Urban Regeneration Foundation.
He said: “I would say that Wirral is little known in China today, but Shanghai Expo is a tremendous opportunity for Wirral to market itself. It is no accident that the regions and cities in the UK that have taken the initiative to work with China in recent years have attracted Chinese investment, Chinese tourists and Chinese students.
“Those that have not taken the initiative?
“Well, no surprise, they have little name recognition in China, no Chinese investment, few Chinese students, no Chinese tourists and no new jobs created by this sort of investment, these students and this tourism.”
China is targeting 70m visitors during the six month run of Expo, between May and October 2010, and nearly 12m tickets have already been sold.
Wirral will join Liverpool City region in the Urban Best Practice Pavilion, as the UK’s only city representatives, following London’s withdrawal.
Simon added: “This is going to be huge and Wirral has a seat at the table.”
Lindsey Ashworth is development director for Peel Holdings, chief sponsor of Wirral’s Expo 2010 stand.
He said: “It is very easy to undermine or criticise, but I expect that to come from the mouths of those who have done nothing for Wirral, and have no concept of the lost word ‘vision’.
“China is really the only world expanding economy that is going to be a driving force for the next decade, so it makes absolute business sense to engage with the business people there.
“To not grasp this opportunity would be a grave mistake for Wirral.”