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The Laz Word... on Airport City

Larry Neild vaguely recalls our special relationship with China

Written by . Published on October 14th 2013.

The Laz Word... on Airport City

WHEN, as the new millennium was about to dawn, Liverpool signed a twin-city agreement with China’s biggest city, Shanghai, it was supposed to trigger an east-west bonanza for Merseyside. 

Getting a foot in the bamboo door was hailed as a coup for Liverpool, giving the city a leg up, pole position in the race for investment and jobs from China. 

As Bullseye king Jim Bowen might have said … 'Let’s look at what Liverpool could have won'

To consolidate the links with the city’s new and very best friends, we spent a small fortune on being present at Shanghai’s World Expo, though to be honest we were a bit off the beaten track.

Shanghai_Tower_2'Shanghai Tower'There was talk of Shanghai Tower, set to be Liverpool’s tallest waterfront skyscraper. Then came the prospect of an International Trade Centre (a posh word for a distribution depot) aimed at attracting an army of Chinese business folk to the opposite banks of the Mersey. Pudong it isn’t, Wirral it is. 

We wax lyrical about Liverpool Waters and Wirral Waters with promises of... well, let’s not even go there. 

Has there even been a slow boat from China, let alone a fast fleet from the Far East dropping anchor in the Mersey? 

So what happens. Our upstart friends from the land of cobbled streets, Manchester, do a dream deal with the Chinese with a promise of 16,000 jobs. 

Next to council-owned Manchester Airport, the massive development will be known as Airport City. 

That’s the one-time aerodrome, incidentally, that as Ringway, was suited only for the landing of the odd bi-plane when Liverpool was kingpin airport of the north.

But good luck to them. The Manchester coup was announced in Beijing by Chancellor George Osborne whose Tatton constituency neighbours Manchester Airport. 

Liverpool Waters, owned by Manchester-based Peel, has more than enough land to accommodate everything China can chuck our way. We are even prepared to throw in the city's World Heritage Status towel to attract jobs. 

As Bullseye king Jim Bowen might have said … “Let’s look at what Liverpool could have won: a project worth £800m, the respected Beijing Construction Engineering Group as a joint venture partner, 16,000 new jobs, a development spanning five million sq feet (ie five times bigger than Liverpool ONE) over the next few years that will see office blocks, logistics hubs, hotels and warehouses occupied by global companies. The prospect of direct flights between the North West and Asia."

 This is what Xing Yan, managing director of the Beijing construction group, said: “To be included in such an interesting and unique development is a real honour. To be part of a project of this size and scale, working alongside other such highly regarded organisations, will be an exciting, challenging and rewarding opportunity, which we look forward to beginning.

“We see our involvement in Airport City as an extension of the memorandum of understanding between China and the UK, where we have been looking to further explore joint infrastructure opportunities for some time.”

Osborne’s announcement was the curtain raiser at the Far East launch of the Manchester-China Forum, aimed at boosting trade links between Manchester and China.

It will be interesting to learn exactly how much Chinese business has been attracted to Liverpool in recent years. The question has been asked and the reply is awaited.

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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 14th 2013.

Excellent report Laz! No doubt the Manchester Confidential website will be throwing loads of praise in the direction of George Osborne, whose nearby constituency, will undoubtedly benefit from any investment and jobs. Uncle Joe must now get his finger out and start talking to the Chinese - and others - or else Merseyside will get left behind again.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyOctober 14th 2013.

That Osborne is an important member of HMG will not have gone unnoticed in China.

John BradleyOctober 14th 2013.

Laz compare you story of last week regarding Merseyrail and compare with what GMTravel will have for it wish list for the next ten years. The difference between the 2 shows the poverty of ambition in Liverpool. Try asking why Merseyrail has no plans to do anything other than the bare minimum to chug along.

AnonymousOctober 14th 2013.

Poverty of ambition is right.

Thank U Very MuchOctober 15th 2013.

How can you be so negative? Our initiatives with China have provided lots of employment for local people. Especially our six months at the Shanghai Expo. Look at the Philharmonic Orchestra, OMD and the millionaires Roger McGough and Mike McCartney. They all got a gig - and I bet MU rates.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 15th 2013.

Not forgetting all those PR agency people employed by Dougal Paver. They've done brilliantly out of it.

AnonymousOctober 15th 2013.

TUVM. Those "jobs" you have quoted were mere one-off gigs by some of our local entertainers. Where are all the permanent jobs linked to trade with China, following the Shanghai Expo? The Chinese firms who intimated establishing themselves here on Merseyside have apparently changed their minds - instead being enticed by Richard Lees & company.

Thank u very muchOctober 15th 2013.

I know

Paul WardOctober 15th 2013.

Osborne won't be a member of HMG in a couple of years. He'll probably manage a few jobs for the likes of construction companies, import/export and the like though.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyOctober 15th 2013.

He is a member now, so China government plays up to him. When he is gone they aren't going put their assets on a barge and send them down the ship channel. You can bet if Balls ever becomes chancellor Leeds will get more investment. Though if Ed milliband had any sense he would sack Balls now, he is just to creepy.

AnonymousOctober 15th 2013.

There's a reason why Liverpool repeatedly loses out to Manchester over projects like this and it's do to with its reputation abroad. Too much Beatles and football, not enough talk about infrastructure or skills. Liverpool has to reposition itself or it's going to keep losing out.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyOctober 15th 2013.

Well that is more than Manc is famous for. The problem is not the view of oversees investors but the views of others in the UK, who slag Liverpool off in the face of foreigners high opinions. That and the likes of Wayne Calhoun who don't want Liverpool to be anything other than an aspic covered museum, to a 19th Century Maritime Mercantile city. Rather than a 21 century Mercantile city.

CommuterOctober 15th 2013.

No it's not that at all, and why you all look at it this way, the door will be forever slammed in Liverpool's face.

Ah NostagiaOctober 20th 2013.

Does Larry vaguely recall the Nanking and the Central, Wei Shang Tong, the Far East. The Café come Inn, the Golden Goose, the Chinese Masonic lodge, the illegal gambling dens, the rattle of Mah Jong, the black Marias. Now they've got a few yen, all hands want to know the Chinese. Its ironic that people who served this nation valiantly in the Atlantic during WW2, were repatriated after the war despite having wives and families. We have apologised for everything so far in this city, It's about time we apologised for that injustice.

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2013.

No one in China was predicting a bonanza for Merseyside after the signing of the twin city agreement with Shanghai - only local politicians getting the cart before the horse - again! You have to get off your arse to earn bonanzas, they are not a given. BTW Chongqing is China's biggest city not Shanghai

Mickeydrippin'October 22nd 2013.

For all the criticism of Peel Holdings that has been prevalent on this site in the past, it is they who will be conducting ongoing talks with various Chinese parties over investment in Wirral and Liverpool Waters. No doubt, Chinese shipping companies are also being canvassed about bringing goods through the expanded container terminal. We should all be patient and wait and see what transpires.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 22nd 2013.

Like Confucious

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2013.

or Fu Mancs Who

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