The Chinese president was unveiling a wave of northern investment during his state visit to Manchester – including the city’s first ever direct flight to China.
Xi Jinping was being joined by David Cameron for a tour of the city before confirming millions of pounds worth of business deals. He is the first Chinese president ever to visit Manchester and is expected to get the full red-carpet treatment.
He was being shown around Manchester Airport , where he was expected to announce a raft of Chinese investment following a trade mission to the country last month.
Top of the list was a new Hainan Airlines route to Beijing, as revealed by the M.E.N. yesterday.
Some £4 million in investment for Salford’s Middlewood Locks urban village was also expected to be officially confirmed.
Chinese investors Beijing Construction and Engineering Group (BCEG) – who are to be main contractors on the project – will provide the cash to kickstart it.
It completes a hat-trick of major BCEG investments in Manchester – after previous waves of funding for Airport City and Jackson’s Row.
Mr Xi was unveiling the deals at the end of a visit designed to showcase Manchester’s investment opportunities and cultural capital.
He was being accompanied by Mr Cameron on a tour that will also take in Manchester City’s Etihad stadium , the National Graphene Institute, National Football Museum and a civic town hall lunch.
Mr Cameron said:
“We are committed to rebalancing our economy and building a Northern Powerhouse.
“China is a key trading partner for the UK and the partnerships being made today will see real investment going into the North. This is all part of this government’s plan to attract more investment and deliver economic growth to an area of huge potential.”
Cash for projects in Leeds, Sheffield, Blackburn and the University of Central Lancashire are also expected.
Much of the latest investment was initially agreed during a trade mission to China last month pitching the ‘northern powerhouse’ to investors , attended by George Osborne, Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese and Trafford leader Sean Anstee.
Manchester council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein has also since flown out to discuss investment with the Chinese.