While the UK has languished in austerity and a deficit-cutting strategy over the past few years, and the Eurozone has had to bail out the Irish and Greek economies with loans, China has steamed ahead as a world financial power.
The Chinese invest all over the world; in Australia, heavily in Africa, and in the US. Beijing is an important driver of global growth.
So from an economic standpoint, it’s no wonder that Portsmouth City Council is doing what it can to entice those with influence at high levels to focus their attention here.
And it’s to be welcomed, as this city, while slowly recovering, still needs some economic good news in the wake of the departure of shipbuilding two-and-a-half years ago.
We are not under any illusion that Chinese investment will turn everyone here into a millionaire in a few months’ time. Nor are we going to claim that because a couple of dignitaries enjoyed watching the America’s Cup sailing in the sunshine, that money will inevitably come rolling in.
But what is important is the symbolism of it all. Portsmouth – as we know it can do – proved it can host a global sporting event, and in doing so showed off its assets, such as the dockyard, the common, and the Solent itself.
The event acted as a platform for companies here to shout about what they do, to show that there is technological and entrepreneurial dynamism in the city. That’s why Magma, Dryad Maritime and ASV Global were chosen to give presentations to the Chinese visitors at the weekend, to show the high-end work going on here.
And if this gives Chinese investors confidence that they can get a return on their money by putting cash into enterprises in this area, which in turn will lead to expansion, more job creation and a more buoyant economy on the south coast, we won’t be complaining.
Portsmouth has long been known around the world due to its naval connections. It would be great to cement a position as a world-recognised global city in the 21st century too. Chinese investment won’t be the be-all and end-all, but it could be a start.