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UK companies networking to lure investment from China

By ecily Liu and Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

14:30, April 23, 2013

Local governments in Britain vie with each other to attract financing from the East, report Cecily Liu and Zhang Chunyan in London

On a snowy day in late March, a Chinese flag flew high outside the rural Welsh county of Flintshire's local government offices. Standing there to welcome their Chinese guests was a large group of locally respected figures and government officials, including a sheriff and a lord.

The special occasion marked the first visit to Flintshire by a group of representatives from the Chinese embassy in the United Kingdom. Determined to attract Chinese investment into the local economy, the Flintshire hosts proudly showed their guests the best of their local specialties, from castles and cheese to advanced manufacturing factories, offshore wind farms and an optoelectronics technology incubation center.

The scenes reflect that more regional governments in the UK are increasingly keen to build business relationships with China, as they realize that the central government's efforts are often more beneficial to the better known cities.

"I think we are very pragmatic in recognizing the economic challenges of the UK, and it's very important to recognize the importance of growing markets like China," said Aaron Shotton, leader of Flintshire County Council.

The Chinese delegation was led by Zhou Xiaoming, minister counselor for economic and commercial affairs at the Chinese embassy in the UK. Zhou said he has received several such invitations from local governments in the UK that are keen on attracting Chinese investment. He has visited a number of them, including Southampton, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Chester to gain a better understanding of local opportunities available to Chinese companies.

One of the investment opportunities Shotton's team showed to Zhou was for Chinese companies to set up shop at the Deeside Enterprise Zone, an advanced manufacturing hub designated as one of five special areas for businesses to receive capital investment tax allowances in Wales last year.

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