Public Sector: GLA seeks media support to lure Chinese to London

The Greater London Assembly (GLA) is bidding to attract businesses and tourists from China and is in talks with PR agencies to spearhead the programme.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone wants to secure further investment from the world's fastest-growing economy and is to open offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

A GLA spokeswoman said: 'The brief is to promote London in China and this (pitch) reflects the growing importance of the Chinese business market, to London in particular and the UK in general.

'The Mayor's office is planning on opening an office in China, so it is looking at a media strategy before this happens.'

Livingstone wants London to be a 'gateway to the UK' for the Chinese market. As well as attracting business and tourism, he wants more students from China to study in the UK. His new offices will be paid for by the London Development Agency.

The benefits of Chinese investment include increased employment, output and efficiency, according to a report published by the GLA last December, entitled Enter the Dragon.

The report said the amount of UK trade with China increased by 80 per cent between 1993 and 2003. Compared with other European cities, London receives a high share of investment from the Chinese economy. The UK's major competitor for Chinese trade is Germany.

There are 80,000 Chinese people in London, which represents one third of the UK's Chinese population. This demonstrates how important China is to the UK, especially London, said the spokeswoman.

The GLA is currently in talks with 12 agencies but decided against using the roster that it put together last year, according to the spokeswoman. 'Because of the nature of the contract we had to look wider than our roster,' she said.

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