Chinese leader signals UK links
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has pointed to Sino-British manufacturing cooperation as he launched the first new MG motor model in 15 years during the British leg of a brief visit to Europe.
Diplomats say China and Britain are expected to announce over £1 billion of deals during his three-day visit in a range of industries.
Mr Wen will meet Prime Minister David Cameron for the latest of a series of bilateral summits focused largely on trade and business, though this will also likely encompass the eurozone debt crisis and human rights issues.
Protesters demonstrated with banners and loudspeakers as Mr Wen toured the MG Motor car factory in Longbridge, near Birmingham, where the new MG6 will be assembled.
"The successful cooperation of the production of the MG6 and other MG vehicles is a symbol of the friendship between China and the UK," Mr Wen said.
"The model can be summed up as designed in the UK, manufactured in China and assembled in the UK, thereby making the most of China's capital and markets, as well as the UK's technology and managerial expertise."
China's leading car maker SAIC Motor Corp became the owner of MG Rover's 10,000-unit Longbridge plant after a merger in late 2007 with its much smaller rival, Nanjing Automobile Group. Longbridge will also serve as a platform for tapping the European market in the future.
Stephen Green, trade and investment minister, said SAIC was a "pioneer for Chinese investors in the UK".
Several dozen human rights protesters gathered outside the factory gates, including yellow-shirted supporters of the Falungong spiritual movement that's banned in China, waving placards and denouncing China's human rights record.
"Cameron and Wen. Human rights before trade," their banners read.