The President of China, Xi Jinping has visited Manchester as part of his four-day state visit of the UK. It is the first time in ten years that a Chinese head of state has visited Britain.
The Birmingham Mail has reported that George Osborne personally veered the Chinese President’s trip away from Birmingham to come to Manchester instead. Osborne recently opened contracts up to Chinese businesses to work on the £50 billion HS2 project that will, at first, connect London to Birmingham.
The Midlands city will also house HS2’s headquarters. Despite officials’ and businesses lobbying the Chancellor to bring the Chinese President to Birmingham, Manchester prevailed in the contest. A spokesperson at Downing Street said the Chancellor has no comments regarding the decision.
In the promise that China will invest millions of pounds in the North West, Osborne took the opportunity to show off the UK’s Northern Powerhouse to Xi Jinping. To make Manchester the ‘hub of the North’, Mr Osborne has encouraged Chinese companies to invest in various projects around the city.
Mr Osborne accompanied Xi Jinping and his wife, First Lady Peng Liyuan, in their visit to Manchester, which included a visit to the University of Manchester. The 62-year-old also toured the Manchester City ground, despite being a life-long Manchester United fan.
Xi, a chemical engineering graduate, visited the National Graphine Institute at the University of Manchester—meeting there with Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell and Nobel Prize winners Kostya Novolselov and Andre Geim—where he learned all about the huge potential of the new-found material.