English universities offering Chinese studies received Pounds 5 million this week following Foreign and Commonwealth Office concern at the poor state of such courses.
Firms in the Midlands, meanwhile, have funded a Chinese centre at University College Northampton to provide them with language and marketing expertise.
The universities of Cambridge, Durham, Leeds and Sheffield, plus the School of Oriental and African Studies, will each get Pounds 750,000 over five years from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The universities of Oxford will get Pounds 500,000 and Newcastle Pounds 300,000.
Most of the money will be spent on teaching and research at masters level and recruiting an extra 100 postgraduates. The rest will go on library materials and building a national database of expertise in Chinese studies.
The Midlands centre was officially opened this week by Sir Edward Heath and the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ma Zhengang.
Richard Sanders, centre coordinator, said: "The motivation is academic - we have a scholarly interest in promoting links between China and Britain. We will also be in a position to provide in-house expertise in areas such as the Chinese economy and business etiquette, and to act as an honest broker for those queries that we cannot answer."
Local firms including B&Q, which has opened a branch in Shanghai, have paid for Xu Qiang, a lecturer from the Beijing Foreign Studies University, to spend a year at University College Northampton. Dr Sanders hopes to arrange a reciprocal visit.