BEIJING, China – The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today launched http://www.london.cn, the official Chinese-language website for London, in the first public event of his trade mission to China.
The site will be the definitive resource for prospective tourists and students, giving accurate and trustworthy advice and information to 600 million Chinese-speaking internet users, in a year when London is set to break records again for Chinese visitors.
The Mayor landed in Beijing just hours earlier, accompanied by a senior delegation representing London’s vibrant, innovative and world-leading business community. As well as Beijing, his six day trip will see him visiting Shanghai and Hong Kong. The Mayor wants to forge closer ties with China, now the world’s second largest economy, worth an estimated $8.2 trillion. His visit will include meetings with business leaders, key investors and senior politicians from China.
The Mayor demonstrated http://www.london.cn to an audience of 300 officials and delegates, alongside prime-time Chinese TV celebrity Meng Fei. Student services on the site include application advice tailored to Chinese candidates and full profiles of every University in London, including facts, testimonials and galleries. Tourist services include a host of practical travel advice; a first-time visitor guide; itineraries for groups; a virtual tour of the city and personal support via Weibo.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “My mission on this visit is to strengthen the already impressive cultural, educational and business ties between China and London. We are already welcoming increasing numbers of Chinese tourists and students to the capital but we want to do all we can to ensure London is the first choice over competing global rivals. This welcoming new Chinese language website, providing a definitive guide to London’s attractions, is one way we are making it easier for potential visitors.’
The Mayor launched the website at a special event in the heart of Beijing’s 798 Art District, arranged by the London Universities International Partnership to mark the opening of its four-day pop-up installation ‘London: celebrating innovation’. Created by the 16 London universities especially for Beijing, the giant letters which dominate the gallery spell out the word LONDON. Each letter highlights a unique contribution that London’s universities are making to global research, creativity and learning.
The showcase is a celebration of the achievements of the London universities and their graduates, and the impressive collaborations taking place between them and their counterparts in China. It contains many examples of how these partnerships are combining the best of eastern and western teaching, exploring cultural differences and enhancing mutual understanding. It has been designed to reflect the breadth and depth of the 30,000 courses and subjects available to study at universities in London. A recent Times Higher Education World Rankings poll revealed that London has more world class universities in the global top 40 than any other city.
The number of Chinese people studying in London is rising, with a record 15,000 last year, making China London’s number one market for international students. Traditionally, a high percentage of the 15,000 Chinese students studying in the UK’s capital city opt for a Business Studies degree, but the trend is now changing. For example the number of Chinese students studying Creative Art and Design rose by 35% in 2012. The London universities believe the showcase will help each prospective Chinese student discover and decide the best option for them from the thousands available in London.
The installation itself reflects the results realised by studying in a multicultural and global business and creative capital. Visitors can see films of London through the eyes of students, try out new music technology which is changing the world of performing arts, find out more about ground breaking research on disappearing languages or a cure for rabies using tobacco, whilst being mesmerised by a fountain that moves to live sounds from famous London landmarks. There is even a 3-D dinosaur skeleton scan which for the first time reconstructs the evolution of modern birds.
Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, the official promotional organisation for London, said: “London is having a record year. The number of Chinese people visiting us has doubled in just three years, and risen by another third this year alone. More than 90% of Chinese visitors said they felt welcome on their trip to Britain, and 95% said they would recommend a trip to others. We designed http://www.london.cn to show how London’s attractions, restaurants, shops and great cultural heritage is ready and waiting for them. And this website is just the beginning of our renewed focus on attracting and serving Chinese visitors.”
Gary Davies, Chairman of the London Universities International Partnership, said:
‘We are delighted to be creating our first London Showcase in Beijing. The Showcase celebrates the significant achievements of London’s universities by highlighting the range of the world-class teaching and collaborative research taking place in our institutions and demonstrates our growing partnerships with China and with Chinese universities.
‘London is the world’s most multi-cultural city, its diversity gives Chinese students access to an important global network that will last them their lifetime and an international perspective that will be invaluable as they rise up their career ladder.’
Charles Ingrey-Senn, whose innovative pop-up saucepan-lid grip design is featured in the installation, has no doubts that his time in London studying Industrial Design gave him the international perspective vital for his career. He urges others to do the same. He said “For any Chinese graduate, looking to broaden their horizons and to increase their marketability in a very competitive global employment industry, living and studying in such a vibrant and innovative city as London is a must.” Charles, founder of industrial design company Caisdesign, has kept his close connections to London, employing a number of graduates emerging from London as his company expanded and flourished. He is now helping others find internships and employment.
The Installation is at the Yang Gallery from Saturday 12th October to Tuesday 15th October.