Brian Davidson, who is based in the massive city of Guangzhou, said green technology was one of the most important sectors for China, which is looking to cut back on the environmental cost of its exponential industrial growth.
And he said the high-tech industrial focus of the West Midlands – along with efforts by the region’s development agency and universities – was getting it noticed in the industrial south of China around the Guangdong area.
On a trip to the UK to promote trade links and co-operation between the two companies, Mr Davidson said: “Environmental technologies is an interesting one, there’s a lot of interest here in energy and energy efficient technology in China – it’s high on the agenda.
“It’s knowledge-based industries that are of most interest at the moment. Even before the economic slowdown Chinese businesses wanted to move up the chain to more skilled work. What they are trying to do at the moment is trying to attract those knowledge-based industries.
“They want to bring in not just the industries but the skills behind those industries.
“They’ve realised it’s time to move away from the ‘workshop of the world’ stage.
“But there’s not really a perception of Birmingham or West Midlands as a region – and this is why raising the perception is so important.”
Guangzhou is the capital of the southern Guangdong province, and is twinned with Birmingham. The region takes in about a third of the total industrial trade of China and is one of the most important for foreign investment. Until a few years ago about one in ten Chinese overseas investors was from the region – the figure is now closer to one in three.
Last week the consulate sponsored a team from Birmingham to visit the region and look at things like heating, power and renewable energy.
Mr Davidson said the twinning had been a boost for Birmingham doing business in Guangzhou. He said: “People there looking to Birmingham and the West Midlands because they have got the link. If you were to ask people on the ground they wouldn’t necessarily know Birmingham but it’s getting better.
He praised the work of Birmingham City Council and Advantage West Midlands, saying their attitude was helping the region become more prominent abroad.
He said: “There is a lot of respect and a lot of enthusiasm for the UK, both in terms of education and in terms of business. This is replicated all around China.”
“You can always do more, but what’s impressive about Birmingham and the West Midlands is they have a clear strategy and an action plan for China. That’s a commendably focussed approach.”
Recently, UK Trade & Investment launched UK Advanced Engineering – a government-supported marketing scheme to push the image of the country’s manufacturers abroad, particularly in places like China.