Birmingham students will be encouraged to study in China under a new scholarship scheme being planned by city MP Liam Byrne.
The Labour shadow minister and Hodge Hill MP was set to outline his plans to forge closer links with the Chinese during a visit to MG Motor UK in Longbridge on Monday.
Mr Byrne, who hopes to be elected mayor of Birmingham, said he would work with the Chinese Government to create a scholarship to allow Birmingham students to take courses at China’s leading universities and colleges.
A special Birmingham scholarship would be set up as an extension of the Study In China programme. He pledged that if elected as mayor, he would work with the Chinese Government to radically extend the programme.
Mr Byrne said: “‘The Study in China programme is an amazing chance for a lucky Birmingham youngster to study in the world’s fastest growing great nation.”
The former Goverment minister says he has forged close links with China in recent years, holding talks with Premier Wen Jiabao twice. He is on the board of the GB-China Centre and helped create the UK-China Young Leaders conference.
He added: “The idea for the scholarship came from China’s ambassador Liu Xiaoming after visiting Hodge Hill.
“You only have to look at the amazing work underway at Longbridge where China and Birmingham are developing the next generation of MG cars to see just how important China is going to be for the city.
"That’s why we need Birmingham students studying in China today.
“In eight years time China may be the world’s largest consumer market. We’re just at the beginning of what’s going to be an incredible relationship and this new scholarship is a big step forward.”