By Xing Yi in London | chinadaily.com.cn |
Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Group Club, which promotes equal and mutually beneficial trade between the UK and China, passed the baton to his son, Jack Perry Junior, at the organization’s annual “Icebreakers” event in London on Monday.
The independent business network was established by Stephen Perry’s father, Jack Perry Senior, and a group of like-minded businessmen in 1954, after their icebreaking visit to China the previous year during which they signed a number of trade agreements, breaking a trade embargo that Western countries had placed on China.
In a congratulatory message to the “Icebreakers” 2024 Chinese New Year celebration, Premier Li Qiang said that facts have fully proved that strengthened cooperation between China and the UK not only serves the fundamental interests of both countries, but also contributes to world peace and prosperity.
“The historic contributions made by the older generations of friends here in the UK will be remembered forever. And I believe that the new generation of ‘icebreakers’ will carry on their legacy and keep moving forward China-UK friendship,” Li said in the letter.
China’s Ambassador to the UK Zheng Zeguang attended the event and read the premier’s letter to an audience of around 500 representatives from the British business community.
Zheng said the Chinese government has recently adopted more than 50 new measures to advance opening-up in the financial sector and is lifting caps on foreign equity holdings in banking and insurance institutions.
Zheng added that both countries need to further enhance cooperation in finance, new energy, bio-medicine, and the digital economy, expand cultural exchanges, and explore collaboration in third markets to complement each other and achieve win-win results.
Jack Perry Junior said: “It’s difficult times, and in difficult times there is icebreaking that needs to be done, and it’s important that every generation continues to be icebreakers in tough times … If you don’t do business with China, your products are a lot more expensive, (delivery) time is a lot longer, so it’s important to be able to keep that going.”
After being officially announced as the next president of the 48 Group Club, Jack Perry Junior announced the London-based group will launch chapters in 10 different locations during the next decade, with the first this year to be in China and the United Arab Emirates.
Stephen Perry said: “Jack is going to take care of the group and he’s got a mission on his hands. He wants to rebuild a young and vibrant 48 Group. We’ve been through four or five years, and now it’s ready for rebuilding as a useful organization bringing young people together.”
Fang Wenjian, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK, gave the audience an introduction to the Chinese zodiac’s dragon and said: “We were drawn together by dragon tonight. No matter who we are, politicians, businessmen, scholars, or ordinary people, we should all build on our common interests and complementary differences, as the far-sighted icebreakers have done, generation after generation.”
Sherard Cowper-Coles, chairman of the China-Britain Business Council, said: “We are friends of pragmatism and practical cooperation. We believe that this celebration is in the interest not just of our two countries, but also in the interests of ordinary people across China and Britain, people whose health, prosperity, and security depend on and benefit from the exchanges between China and the UK.”