The Bulldog and the Dragon – Chinese firms encouraged to invest in UK engineering

Published: 01 Oct 2015

You may have heard recently about the British Chancellor George Osborne’s recent business trip around China. Much of the focus during the visit was on encouraging greater economic cooperation and investment between Britain and China with particular impetus on engineering. Engineering bodies in the UK and China signed a deal to create an exchange scheme between each nation’s companies, intended to give the engineers insights into how their counterparts handle infrastructure projects.


George Osborne has also been encouraging Chinese investment and participation in a range of UK projects including HS2, hoping to make use of China’s vast financial muscle as well as its high speed rail expertise, and also wants to use Chinese investment and technology for the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power station. Of course, China has a long history of giant engineering accomplishments, including the Ming Dynasty’s Great Wall just north of Beijing, and the longest canal in the world  which was first constructed in its entirety over a thousand years ago!

A land of engineering giants

With the prospect of Chinese involvement in the UK engineering sector looking more and more likely, here are some of the incredible infrastructure projects which have been or are being undertaken in China.

1. Shanghai Tower

Started in 2008, the Shanghai Tower is now China’s tallest building and the second tallest in the world. The elevator serving the buildings upper section completes the longest single elevator journey in the world at around 580 metres, which it covers in under 60 seconds. It has been described as the “greenest super-high rise building on earth”.

2. Beijing to Shanghai High Speed Rail Link

After just three years of construction, the Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail link opened in 2011. It’s managed to reduce the 820 mile journey between the two mega-cities to just under 5 hours, with a cruising speed of 186 miles per hour. This enormous feat was delivered at a cost of £21.4bn, significantly less than the UK’s HS2 scheme despite being far more ambitious.​

3. Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

This is China’s first major combined bridge and tunnel sea crossing project. Once completed, it’ll reduce travel time from Hong Kong to Macau or Zhunhai in mainland China by two and a half hours. Linking some of China’s wealthiest cities, the project will involve a 38km bridge in the South China Sea, becoming one of the longest sea spanning bridges in the world (the longest is also in China). This will be just one of several bridges making up the project, which is expected to be completed in 2017.

4. New Century Global Centre

Situated in a suburb of the western Chinese city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, the New Century Global centre is the world’s largest building by floor area. It features a huge amount of shopping space, offices, conference rooms, a university complex, hotels, a cinema, and even a pirate ship. All of this was built in just three years.

5. Yangshan Deep-Water Port

This £12bn port facility, serving Shanghai, was built, with the help of land reclamation, on a group of islands 20 miles out to sea, connected to the mainland with another one of the world’s longest bridges. This made the Shanghai port system the largest container port in the world.

A bright future for UK engineering

While having more modest ambitions than China’s, there can be no doubt that the UK is undergoing an infrastructure boom, to which Chinese money could be a welcome addition. However, with an annual shortfall of 55,000 skilled workers in the UK at the moment, it’s a great time to look for a new job in engineering, as demand pushes up wages and gives qualified candidates a high chance of success. If you would like to look at the latest engineering vacancies, visit our jobs page.

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