Longbridge could provide a crucial bridge between China and the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said.
He made the comments to Birmingham MP Richard Burden (Lab Northfield) when the pair met following Mr Brown's high-profile visit to China. The Prime Minister said the former Rover factory site in Birmingham provided an opportunity to strengthen industrial links between the two nations.
Much of Longbridge was bought by Chinese firm Nanjing Automobile in 2005. However, Mr Brown said China would be interested in Longbridge for its potential role as a centre for the development of new technology, as well as for its importance to the automotive industry.
He has made strengthening links with China one of his top priorities as Prime Minister, and recently visited the country accompanied by 20 leading British and European business figures.
Mr Burden said: "The Prime Minister told me he sees the potential of the Longbridge project to develop co-operation between China and the UK.
"For example, it provides a chance for our countries to work together on training and research.
"Car-making will be a part of Longbridge, but only a part.
"The real prize will be to get China really engaged in the redevelopment of the site."
The MP said China was becoming increasingly interested in developing "green" technology and in finding ways to re-use former industrial land. He had been pushing for many years for Longbridge to become a British centre of research for environmental technologies, he said.
"If Longbridge can become a centre of excellence in tackling climate change issues then that would make it very valuable to China."
Mr Burden met Mr Brown in the Prime Minister's offices in the Commons.
He also met Lord Digby Jones, the Trade Minister, who accompanied Mr Brown on his China visit. Longbridge was the main topic of conversation at a dinner Lord Jones had with his opposite numbers in the Chinese government, Mr Burden revealed.
Birmingham City Council, landowners St Modwen and neighbouring local authorities have drawn up plans for the rest of the site which include 1,400 houses, a shopping centre and a science park.
The plans to redevelop Longbridge will create 3,000 manufacturing jobs and 2,759 high-tech jobs over a 15-year period. Other jobs will be created in the retail, office, distribution and warehousing sectors, bringing the total number of jobs to 10,000.
The plans also include housing, a new village centre for Longbridge and a superstore.