With a staggering population of around 8 million people, Changchun is the largest city in the Jilin province.  Location wise, it sits in the area once known as Manchuria, not far from the border with North Korea.

Along with its neighbouring province of Liaoning, Changchun is regarded as the engine room of the Chinese state due to its heavy manufacturing focus.  Although it has been somewhat superseded by the high performing ‘modernised’ economies of the south and the Pearl River Delta area,  it still thrives with an average annual GDP growth of around 15%.

Agriculture and food, bio-medical and optoelectronics are significant contributors to its economy, but essentially, Changchun is known as the first ‘car city’ in China with a particularly strong automotive sector.   In fact, it is home to the First Automotive Works; one of China’s largest and oldest state owned Auto manufacturers. The automotive industry accounts for over 60 per cent of the city’s industrial output and was a deal clincher when Birmingham established formal cooperation with them in 1983.

A great deal of activity between the cities has been underway more recently.  In summer 2011, senior executives from the auto industry travelled to Birmingham with former Premier Wen Jiabao. This was reciprocated in November 2012 when a high profile Birmingham delegation went to Changchun to discuss inward investment related to Research & Development.

In 2013, the 30th anniversary of relations between Birmingham and Changchun were marked when Changchun brought a significant auto supply chain and original equipment manufacturing delegation to Birmingham.  Several successful commercial relations were forged as a result of the visit. Significantly, a large automotive supplier in Changchun has made a substantial investment in a  Birmingham auto supplier and plant in East Birmingham. Birmingham City Council and partners continue to talk to Changchun about opportunities in the further education and higher education sector also.

Information on Changchun (in English) is available here: City of Changchun