On 22 February, EMITA, the East Midlands International Trade Association, is holding an event called Opportunities for UK Businesses in China’s Regional Cities. It is organised in partnership with the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) and UKTI.

Many British businesses continue to focus only in a small number of places in China, such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen. However, markets in these locations are becoming increasingly competitive.

The report – Opportunities for UK Businesses in China’s Regional Cities – presents the findings of research conducted in 2011, by CBBC and the Centre of International Business at the University of Leeds for and on behalf ofUKTI.

The key findings are that since 2007, exports to China from the East Midlands have risen from £267m to £424m. The main sector is machinery and transport equipment, which has grown by 58% since 2007.

The East Midlands group has identified two priority locations to develop business with China –Sichuan Province / Chongqing Municipality (which is twinned with Leicester) and Zhejiang Province / Ningbo. Even if Mandarin is the lingua franca, the inhabitants of Zhejiang speak Wu, a branch of Chinese, but the Wu dialects are very diverse, especially in the south, where one valley may speak a dialect completely unintelligible to another valley a few kilometres away. The main language of the Sichuan province is Sichuanese, a branch of Southwestern Mandarin, which is highly divergent in phonology, vocabulary and even grammar from the standard language.

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