Chinese ambassador eyes British partnerships to boost nation’s sport sector
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Chinese ambassador eyes British partnerships to boost nation’s sport sector

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The Chinese ambassador to the UK has called on the British sport sector to help the nation realise its ambitions of creating its own sports industry worth US$750bn (£580.2bn, €687.9bn) by 2025.

During a wide-ranging speech at the Telegraph’s Business of Sport Conference 2017, Liu Xiaoming said that while there was a government-backed imperative to boost China’s sporting offer, it couldn’t yet count itself as a “strong sporting nation”.

He highlighted “uneven development” and “inadequate administration capabilities” as barriers to its development, but stressed that the deficiencies presented opportunities for “world-leading” British companies to win business.

Sports management, facilities development and sports medicine were among the fields of expertise Liu said China required to reach its target.

According to the ambassador, the Chinese sports industry was worth US$225bn (£174.1bn, €206.4bn) in 2015, and is projected to double in value by 2020.

Britain, said Liu, was in a perfect place to capitalise on the Chinese sports industry “gold mine”, due to a close collaboration between the two nations on the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games, as well as what he called a “golden era of China-UK relations”.

In 2015, Chinese president Xi Jinping made a state visit to the UK, taking in a trip to Manchester City FC’s academy that revealed his interest in football and sport in general.

The Chinese football Super League has made headline around the globe over the past 18 months as a result of high-profile acquisitions of some of the world’s best-known footballers.

However, Liu said the government’s ramped up interest in sport extended far beyond elite competition, with the health and wellbeing of its residents a key driver in investment.

He told delegates that one third of China’s population took part in sport and physical activity – exceeding the average for developing countries. It was a trajectory the government wanted to see continue.

Liu also reiterated China’s “dream” to host and win the FIFA World Cup.

In a morning session dominated by China, Christopher Lee of sports architecture studio Populous revealed that the firm had opened offices in Beijing to capitalise on the growing sector.

As reported by Sports Management, the studio is working with global trade platform Alibaba to improve football infrastructure, specifically training grounds and complexes.

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The Chinese ambassador to the UK has called on the British sport sector to help the nation realise its ambitions of creating its own sports industry worth US$750bn (£580.2bn, €687.9bn) by 2025.
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