Manchester looks forward to Xi's visit

As Chinese President Xi Jinping will conclude his state visit to Britain on Friday, with a tour to the city of Manchester, local officials said that the city looks forward to the Chinese leader's arrival.

Manchester Council leader Sir Richard Leese said: "That this state visit is taking in Manchester is both a major honor and a sign of growing interest in the city in China itself, which I experienced myself on a recent trade delegation to this fascinating country."

"Manchester and China have long links with trading relations dating back more than 150 years and a sister city link with Wuhan established in the 1980s," Leese said.

"We have a flourishing Chinese community, the third-largest Chinatown in Europe and a growing number of Chinese students. Chinese investment in Manchester has also burgeoned in recent years," said Leese.

"We look forward to welcoming the president and first lady and building on these relationships," Leese said.

Xi's trip means that he will cross the Watford Gap, which is often said to be an invisible line dividing north and south England. Manchester, the undisputed capital of the north of England, is a core city involved in the Northern Powerhouse program proposed by the British government to boost economic growth of the north.

Xi is expected to ink a number of important contracts and accords related to Northern Powerhouse, which is aimed at rebalancing the British economy away from London and the South East.

Chinese investors are already pouring millions of dollars of investment into Manchester and the north. Airport City, a business development adjoining Manchester airport, has attracted massive investment from the Chinese government.

On Friday morning, Xi will visit the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester, where a major investment deal is expected to be announced.

Afterward the Chinese president and his wife, Peng Liyuan, joined by British Prime Minister David Cameron, will visit the City of Manchester Stadium and then head to Manchester airport.

Local business leaders will eagerly await any possible announcements regarding direct flights from Manchester to China's mainland.

Source: Xinhua