Rule Britannia

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Having lived my early life in the UK before moving to Hong Kong and starting my China Journey, I’ve often wondered why British companies have not had the success in China enjoyed by other countries. I’ve always put this down to the struggles and disagreements of the last 5 years before the Hong Kong Handover in 1997, which locked British companies out of China for many years (to the benefit of other countries like USA, Canada and Australia) at a time when China was only just starting to open up. Prime Minister David Cameron saw the opportunity to turn things around with a PM-led trade mission in late 2013 but then domestic politics slowed things down. With Brexit nearly out of the way, it’s now time for the UK to get serious about engaging with new markets and where better to start than the world’s fastest growing consumer market, China.

I was therefore pleased to see that British companies have had a successful time last week at the third China International Import Expo in Shanghai which “saw the UK secure more than £430 million of commercial deals across a range of sectors” and “thousands of new connections between UK and Chinese companies, with 120,000 unique visitors to the new UK-China business matching platform” according to the UK Government.

It’s also nice to see that, with quiet diplomacy and mutual respect, a western country can still maintain ideological differences with China without impacting their trade and investment relationship. It’s only 5 months since the UK reversed a previous decision by banning Huawei from playing a role in building the UK’s 5G infrastructure, due to security concerns, but this doesn’t appear to have harmed their China trade, at least so far. It’s still too early to predict how this will all turn out but there will be many happy British companies returning from Shanghai this week.

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