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Blog: A view of G20 host city Hangzhou

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06 Sep 2016

In June, Jennie Holdstock was part of the City Region’s trade and investment delegation to Leeds’ sister city, and G20 hosts, Hangzhou. Here she provides an overview of the city which will undoubtedly be making headlines over the next week.

“Hangzhou, the capital of the Zhejiang Province, is one of the most beautiful cities in China and centred around the scenic West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its economy bares a number of similarities to that of Leeds City Region, most notably its entrepreneurial spirit. The city has huge ambitions to become one of the leading global centres, and with a GDP of over £112bn, the city is already moving towards this goal.

“It’s important to also note that the connection between Leeds and Hangzhou goes much further than similar business climates, the two cities have been twinned since 1988. This arrangement is an economic partnership that has meant relationships between the City Region and China have been growing for over 25 years. During the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the Chinese team were based in Leeds; and a number of our City Region’s universities have long-standing successful partnerships with universities in Zhejiang Province, including: The University of York, Leeds Beckett University and The University of Leeds. In fact, this network and legacy of partnership working was extremely helpful during the delegation’s visit.

“During our time in the city this year, we met with a number of businesses that work across our priority sectors, Financial and Professional Services, Digital Technologies, Healthcare and Manufacturing. It was evident from these meetings that our sector strengths are closely aligned with Hangzhou’s key focus areas. In particular, this resulted in interesting discussions with technology, software and e-commerce businesses, which have seen unprecidented growth, and are investing heavily in R&D.

One of my favourite meetings was with NetEase, a leading internet technology company headquartered in Hangzhou, which operates some of China’s most popular PC-client and mobile games, and e-mail services. The firm is also behind one of China’s fastest growing e-commerce platforms, Kaola.com, a site which attracts over 5 million customers every day. This meeting has already resulted in the City Region working closely with Kaola.com to enable some of our businesses to sell their products into the huge Chinese marketplace via the platform.

“It was also interesting to meet with major investors and see their attitude to the “Made in the UK” brand. In the past there has been a concern that Chinese companies involved in mergers and acquisitions with UK businesses were looking to capture IP and take it back to China, closing down the UK operations: every investor we met with assured us this was not the case. The reason for this was simple, the “Made in the UK” brand enables Chinese companies charge a premium for products, this coupled with the ever expanding Chinese middle class market means demand is increasing for reliable branded products manufactured in the West.

“It was also evident throughout our meetings that the recent decision by the UK to leave the European Union has done nothing to dampen China’s appetite to invest here. The Golden Era of China-UK relations is definitely still evolving, and I, along with the rest of the City Region, look forward to continuing to develop our relationships with Hangzhou businesses to ensure that we can work more closely together in the future for the economic benefit of both our countries and regions.”

The City Region is currently planning a follow up visit for March 2017 which will be led by Leeds City Council leader, Cllr Judith Blake, and will include a delegation of businesses, as we look to further develop our relationship with the Hangzhou and China. If you are interested in joining this delegation, please click here and get in touch.

If you are interested in the trade opportunities and selling your products to the growing Chinese market via Kaola.com, click here to find out more information

 

Hangzhou Fact File

 

  • A GDP of over £112bn
  • Population of almost 9 million
  • One hour from Shanghai by high-speed train
  • Home to the headquarters of internet giant Alibaba
  • Home to the “Silicon Valley” of China, Hangzhou High-Tech Industry Development Zone (HHTZ)
  • China’s Happiest City
  • Described by Marco Polo, as "the world's most magnificent and noble city"
  • Forbes Magazine has consecutively placed Hangzhou on its chart of "Mainland China's Best Cities for Commerce"