British business community eyes stronger trade ties with China

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By Xinhua News Agency

British business leaders have said they hope that trade ties between Britain and China will deepen as the two countries work toward economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The remarks were made during the “Icebreakers” 2023 Chinese New Year celebration, jointly hosted in London by the 48 Group Club, China Chamber of Commerce in the UK and China-Britain Business Council.

In 1954, Jack Perry, founder of the London Export Corporation, led a group of 48 British businessmen on a historic trade mission to Beijing. This helped create one of the first modern-day trade links with China, effectively breaking the U.S.-led Western embargo on the newly-founded People’s Republic of China.

The 48 men were the founders of the 48 Group Club. Their trip to Beijing became known as the “Icebreaking Mission,” while the club members were called “Icebreakers.”

Chinese Ambassador to Britain Zheng Zeguang said in his keynote speech that a blueprint for China’s development over the next five years, and in the longer-term, was drawn up at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last year.

“This will open up broad space for cooperation between China and other countries, the UK included,” he said.

Lord Hammond of Runnymede, former chancellor of the Exchequer, underlined that China is the world’s second-largest economy, the UK’s sixth-largest export market, and fourth-largest trade partner overall.

“Many of our global partners have been quietly increasing their share of trade with China, while we’ve seen ours stagnate over the pandemic period. So it’s time now to roll the sleeves up and get that market share climbing as business returns to normal,” he said.

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, chair of the China Britain Business Council, said that as the UK emerges from a summer of political chaos, China and the UK “can work together to increase the happiness, prosperity and wellbeing of our two peoples.”

“We can now look forward to an era in which sanity has returned to Downing Street, and in which we can once again welcome hundreds of thousands of Chinese students in the UK, we can welcome Chinese tourists,” he added.

Stephen Perry, chair of the 48 Group Club, said that health, climate change and finance are some of the areas that the business communities of China and the UK can focus on.

“The business community has to recognize that it has a responsibility to the people of the UK, to protect our work, to protect our businesses and participate in the world trade that we’ve played a significant part in creating,” he said.

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