The Chinese community could play a major role in the region’s economic recovery over the next 12 months, the leader of the Birmingham Chinese Society has predicted, ahead of celebration for the Chinese New Year.

The society will be marking the start of the year of the Tiger with a celebration dinner in Birmingham city centre tonight (Tuesday) with more than 300 invited dignitaries and guests.

The society’s chief executive Irene Chu said that the Chinese community’s links with the Far East could prove to be a vital factor for West Midlands businesses in the economic upturn.

China was one of the few economies in the world that experienced large scale expansion last year, growing by 8.7% over the whole of 2009 and by nearly 11% in the final quarter.

“China is a world economic power house," said Mrs Chu. "The unique position of the Birmingham Chinese Society with our contacts with Chinese businesses here in the West Midlands and our connections in the Far Eastcan assist the Chinese business community to play an essential role in the region’s economic recovery,”

The Birmingham Chinese Society offers a range of interpretation, cultural and welfare services to an estimated 20,000 Chinese people living across the West Midlands.

Mrs Chu added: “We can provide a platform for bringing Chinese businesses together, to network, so they can help each other in the economic recovery and for the Chinese community to reach out to businesses throughout the region to share prosperity."

Guests at the Chinese New Year celebration dinner at the China Court Restaurant, in Ladywell Walk, will include Birmingham Lord Mayor, Coun Michael Wilkes, Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Mike Whitby, a representative from the Chinese Embassy with Ken Tong, the chairman of the Birmingham Chinese Society, making the welcoming speech.

The evening is supported by a range of companies and business organisations including Advantage West Midlands, the Bank of China, the Bank of East Asia, along with UK high street banks as well as Birmingham City Council and Chinese associations across the region.

“We will be celebrating the New Year together, to share a sense of optimism and create momentum and a positive atmosphere for a successful year of the Tiger in 2010,” said Mrs Chu.