Chinese investors eye Birmingham’s HS2 potential

Curzon Eastside

A delegation of Chinese contractors has been assessing potential opportunities posed by the development of the HS2 high speed rail line in Birmingham – in particular, the city’s proposed new railway station at Eastside.

Representatives of CHINCA (China International Contractors Association) were being shown the Eastside during a visit to Birmingham City University.

Fang Qiuchen, the association’s chairman, toured the university’s £63m Curzon Building and from its fifth-floor balcony was shown where high speed trains would be arriving in the city from 2026.

The visit could be a harbinger of what might be to come for the city as with 3,000 members, CHINCA is currently responsible for one in five infrastructure projects being undertaken across the globe.

In 2014, the value of CHINCA’s contracted projects abroad amounted to $191.8bn, with a turnover of $142.4bn, with projects across 190 countries.

It is no secret that Chinese investors are looking to capitalise on opportunities posed by high speed rail and the potential for investment in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands would be significant.

Fang Qiuchen said: “It is a pleasure and an honour to be here, and I am sure it won’t be the last time we visit. There are so many opportunities for investment in Birmingham and the wider region, and we have all been impressed by the Midlands’ ambitious infrastructure plans.

“Furthermore, partnerships with institutions such as Birmingham City University will enable us to understand local cultural and legal environments to ensure cooperation takes place going forward. As construction of high speed railway station progresses, it will be fantastic to see the area around the University develop into a modern place for the international community to gather.”

Leading the delegation was Sun Tong, Director-General of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs. A senior official from China’s Ministry of Commerce, the Director-General was accompanied by more than 40 other senior delegates from mainland China and Hong Kong.

Dr Colin Clinton, Regional Manager, Department of International Trade Midlands Engine, said: “The Midlands offers some of the most innovative and exciting companies and universities in the country, and we are keen to encourage more investment into our projects across the region to drive this economic growth.”

Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Birmingham City University, added: “BCU is supplying graduates to the region who contribute towards its economic growth, helping ensure that Birmingham as a city is constantly reinventing itself to secure a robust future. With the arrival of HS2, this is happening right in front of us, as the area around our City Centre Campus is set to emerge as an internationally-important focus of transport and education.

“We are proud of our close educational links with the People’s Republic of China; 31% of our international students are Chinese, enriching our campus communities here in the UK, and our partnership with Wuhan Textiles University saw the Birmingham Institute for Fashion and Creative Arts open in China last year.”

The Chinese delegation visiting Birmingham City University