31 July 2020
Earlier this week Caroline Wilson CMG, the new U.K Ambassador (designate) to the People’s Republic of China made her inaugural visit to Manchester to gain a deeper understanding of the connections and opportunities between the city region and China.
The visit comes at an important juncture in bilateral ties and provided an opportunity to highlight the significant progress made in recent years in deepening engagement and understanding between the region and China.
With the aviation industry still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Caroline met with Manchester Airport’s leadership team to discuss its impact on direct connectivity into China. Connectivity has been a critical feature of the Manchester-China agenda and has served as a major catalyst of enhanced flows of people, goods and services between the two regions. Discussions also focussed on the vital role that the airport has to play in helping to realise the government’s levelling-up ambitions – highlighting the significant opportunities for growth ahead. Whilst short-term priorities must focus on recovery – clearly there remains significant appetite for enhanced connectivity into the world’s major growth engine.
The visit also focussed on the critical importance of educational collaboration. The University of Manchester (UoM) has seen rapid growth in student numbers from the Mainland over recent years and its success in attracting major research collaboration projects has been accelerated as the University continues to progress up the rankings table and is now ranked 27th globally. Programmes such as the UK-China Infrastructure Alliance Academy - a training programme offering courses, seminars and workshops to major Chinese infrastructure players - as well as a high-profile UK-China football coaching programme, were just a few of the high profile programmes discussed during the visit.
A dedicated life sciences session focussed on Greater Manchester’s devolved health and social care budget, its response to COVID-19 and flourishing life science sector. Senior representatives from Bruntwood SciTech, Health Innovation Manchester, The Christie, UoM, Apis Assay and Qiagen drew on the city region’s key strengths in genomics, AI, digital and technology which have propelled innovation and shortened the journey from laboratory to clinic to provide better patient care.
A final roundtable with senior regional executives focussed on the current geopolitical climate, the challenges of navigating a post-COVID-19 world and the critical importance of international collaboration to the region’s long-term future.