Business and political leaders from the Eastern region have launched the East of England China Forum which aims to stimulate inward investment, tourism, student numbers and export opportunities with China.

The initiative is facilitated by London Stansted Airport, which is targeting additional long-haul routes, including China, to add to its growing network of 200 destinations.

The Forum brings together business groups, county councils and local government, tourism agencies and universities to work together on building relationships and to support the drive to secure a direct Chinese air link.

It will also provide a focus for organisations looking to increase their connectivity with China and to encourage more businesses to explore opportunities in China.

CEO of London Stansted Ken O’Toole said: “Our expectation is that today’s launch will eventually culminate in the securing of a direct link between Stansted and China. Certainly on the basis of the discussions we are already having with a range of Chinese carriers, I see no reason why Stansted cannot be the Chinese gateway to the East of England for investors and tourists looking to take advantage of all the exciting opportunities available to them.”

Essex County Council has been instrumental in the formation of the new Forum.

Its Deputy Leader, Councillor Kevin Bentley, said that the Council’s 30-year partnership with Jiangsu will be opened up to benefit the whole of the East of England.

Businesses in London and the East of England interested in joining the Forum are invited to email at

The formation of a similar Forum in Manchester proved very successful, where a partnership between Manchester Airport, local government, tourism agencies, universities and the business community helped to secure direct links to both Hong Kong and Beijing in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

Last reviewed 3 December 2018