China's President Xi Jinping will join David Cameron in Manchester today as the Prime Minister seeks to promote the Government's 'Northern Powerhouse' agenda.
The tour marks the final leg of Mr Xi's state visit to Britain and is set to include a visit to Manchester City's football academy, where the two leaders will meet the team's former players Patrick Vieira and Mike Summerbee, and ex-Manchester United (NYSE: MANU - news) stars Gary Neville and Denis Law - whose glittering career also involved spells at City.
A series of deals focused on the so-called "Northern Powerhouse" will also be agreed during the day.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Cameron said: "China is a key trading partner for the UK and the partnerships being made today will see real investment going into the North."
A direct air link between Manchester and Beijing will also be announced alongside new housing, regeneration and education deals.
The leaders are also due to visit Manchester's National Graphene Institute.
A deal will be announced for the Chinese telecoms company Huawei to partner with the Manchester University laboratories that invented graphene, a form of carbon that is the world's thinnest and most conductive material.
A large crowd of well-organised students set up flags in Manchester's Albert Square from 5.30am on Friday morning.
Some of the flags and T-shirts distributed among the crowd came from cardboard boxes marked "diplomatic bag," suggesting they may have been flown in from China for the occasion.
One of the group told Sky News he was there to greet his "idol" President Xi.
Mr Xi and Mr Cameron will have lunch at Manchester Town Hall with 200 businessmen and women.
Mandarin banners welcoming the Chinese leader have been put up across Manchester ahead of the visit.
The concept of the "Northern Powerhouse" was conceived by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's team in 2013.
From inception it was designed to attract Chinese investors who have built mega-cities to replicate their plans in northern England.
On this trip, Mr Xi endorsed the plan to invest billions in cities from Liverpool to Leeds in order to help rebalance the British economy.
Mr Xi has likened the plan to his own new Silk Road idea, opening the floodgates to Chinese firms investing in northern England.
He said: "We encourage Chinese companies to the construction of the Northern Powerhouse, and make more investment, so that we will achieve win / win results.
"I am looking forward to seeing what's happening in Manchester."
There has not been a trip like this by a world leader to Manchester for nearly a century.
US President Woodrow Wilson made a state visit to the city in 1918.