Building Bridges between the UK and Chinese Business Communities

Trust is the foundation of any successful business relationship, regardless of nationality and industry. – Jean Jameson

On Tuesday, 5 March, Jean Jameson, UK CEO of Hampton Group, was invited to speak on a panel organised by the Leadership Council. The panel was held under the theme of Reaching out to China.

The panel saw the launch of the latest research report of the Leadership Council which presents “nuggets of wisdom” in an easily portable and accessible format.  The report is based on interviews with industry leaders. “Reaching out to China” is the tenth in a series of papers on topical concerns for leaders. The Leadership Council brings together senior figures from commercial and public life. Chaired by Lord Janvirn, the Council provides a powerful perspective on leadership agenda.

“It was refreshing to see so many senior business leaders have a real interest in building bridges with China. When doing business with China it is crucial to understand its culture and people and to see so many UK business leaders interested in learning about that, made me feel very positive about the future of UK China business relations.” commented Jean Jameson.

The panel discussion made it clear that it is not only western business leaders who need to learn how to communicate with Chinese business leaders but also the Chinese business community that needs to learn how to tell their story to a Western audience. “China is looking to the UK for best practice.” commented Jean Jameson. Countries like the UK play a vital role in serving as a role model for China in various areas such as corporate governance.

Hosted by Lord Janvrin, Deputy Chairman of HSBC Private Bank (UK) Ltd, the panel saw business leaders from Chinese and non-Chinese backgrounds tell their story on how to reach out to China. Panellists included: Suwei Jiang, Partner of China Business Group of PwC, Phil Swash, Former Director and CEO of GKN Automotive and Martin Newman, Founder of the Newman Partnership.

To do well in China you have to keep an open mind and be ready to discard preconceived ideas. It is best to learn about China with your own eyes. – Suwei Jiang, Partner of China Business Group of PwC.

Founded in London in 2005, the Leadership Council brings together senior figures from commercial and public life. The Leadership Council meets regularly to debate the leadership agenda, annually publishing the findings of their research into a specific leadership issue.

What have you learned when doing business in China? What challenges do you still face? Let us know in the comment section on our LinkedIn.

South East Asia is Growing Together

On Thursday, 28 February, Andrew Methven, Vice President and Head of Strategic Consultancy of Hampton Group, was invited to deliver a keynote speech at the 2019 South & Southeast Asia Commodity Expo and Investment Fair (SSACEIF). The conference was held under the theme of exploring global collaboration opportunities with Yunnan Province.

The SSACEIF was attended by senior government officials, international business leaders, and foreign dignitaries. ZHANG Guohua, Deputy Governor of Yunnan Province, also attended the conference. Representatives from over 86 countries including Malaysia, Pakistan and Afghanistan attended the conference. The exhibition attracted over 4,000 enterprises of which over 40% came from outside China.

“The atmosphere was so refreshing. While in the West all we talk about is getting divorced, all the attendees here were talking about getting married and growing together,” commented Andrew Methven. South East Asia is one of the least connected areas in the world. Building connections throughout the area to increase economic development and improve people’s living conditions was a key aspect of the conference. As such building economic partnerships through the Belt and Road Initiative, the “Bangladesh China Indian Myanmar economical corridor” and the “China and Indo-China Peninsula economical corridor” were major discussion areas.

Yunnan is not only the door to South East Asia it also has curious connections to the UK. The earliest reference of Yunnan in the UK can be traced back to a British novel in the 1930s called “Lost Horizon.” This book describes a place called “Shangri-La”, which is a harmonious and peaceful valley far from the mountains of the East. In the novel, the people who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living hundreds of years beyond the normal lifespan and only very slowly ageing in appearance.

The second curious connection is a man named George Forrest. George Forrest was one of the first explorers of Yunnan Province, which is generally regarded as the most biodiverse province in all of China. During his first expedition to Yunnan in 1904 he helped with the inoculation of thousands of locals against smallpox. In his lifetime he brought back perhaps 31,000 plant specimens, amassing hundreds of species of rhododendron.

Have you travelled to Yunnan before? Are you going to now? Let us know in the comment section on LinkedIn.

  Looking back on UK-China Business Leaders Summit

Hampton Group has successfully facilitated the first and second UK-China Business Leaders Summit. The purpose of the summit is to create a platform for UK and Chinese companies to engage in dialogue.

The first summit saw attendance from over 400 UK and Chinese guests including business leaders from China’s private sector, including top property developer China Vanke, leading Chinese private equity firm China Minsheng Investment (CMI) and other well-known financial services companies. The second summit received increased interest from UK and Chinese businesses with over 600 business leaders attending.

The summit strengthened UK China business relations. It resulted in a pledge of a £1.5bn investment from China Minsheng Investment Corporation (CMI) which announced it was opening its European HQ in London. The investment targets advanced technology, financial services, off-shore engineering, new energy and environmental protection. Most recent investments include a £76.7m lead in the funding of UK’s eToro. MAP Environmental and ZNShine Solar also announced a joint venture to purchase, develop and construct £400m of UK solar assets.

Hampton Group is committed to continue providing a platform for UK-China business exchanges. In 2019 the World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention (WCEC) will be hosted in London. The WCEC is the largest and most important independent event that brings together Chinese entrepreneurs from around the globe. This will be the first time the WCEC has been held in Europe. Hampton Group’s Chairman Chris Yang has been officially appointed by the WCEC Secretariat as the Executive Chairman of the Organising Committee of the 15th WCEC. The Convention expects to attract over 3,500 delegates from around the world and will provide a unique opportunity to engage with Chinese business leaders.

The World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention (WCEC) is coming to London

The World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention (WCEC) is the largest and most important independent event that brings together Chinese entrepreneurs from around the globe.

Now in its 27th year, this biennial event serves as the major platform linking Chinese business organisations, Chinese companies from around the world, and their international partners to drive economic, trade and business cooperation. The 15th WCEC will be hosted in London on 21-23 October 2019.

This will be the first time the WCEC has been held in Europe. The Convention expects to attract over 3,500 delegates from around the world. Chris Yang, Chairman of Hampton Group, has been officially appointed by the WCEC Secretariat as the Executive Chairman of the Organising Committee of the 15th WCEC. He will be responsible for leading on and overseeing all aspects of the Convention.

More information about WCEC can be found here: WCEC secretariat

EU-China Summit advises on trade conflict

The opening of the EU-China Summit, which began today in Beijing, was overshadowed by discussions about the ongoing trade conflict between China and the US.

European and Chinese leaders expressed concern over the tit-for-tat trade war and faltering negotiations on an investment protection agreement between the two sides – the EU’s call for more market opening in China and the planned reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Pressure from US President Donald Trump, and his disruptive tactics, have brought China and the EU closer together. For the first time since 2015, there will be a joint declaration at the end of the Summit.  In the trade dispute, the EU, like China, rejects Trump’s unilateral action outside the WTO, but does not want to be over-reliant on Beijing because many EU politicians share Trump’s criticism of China’s market barriers and forced technology transfer.

After talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Council President Donald Tusk and other members of the EU leadership were also welcomed by President Xi Jinping. Topics discussed include North Korea’s nuclear programme and the future of the Iran deal in light of the US’s withdrawal earlier this year.

The EU hopes the Summit will help accelerate the proposed investment agreement, and help expand agricultural exports. China has already reopened its market for beef from Ireland and France, which had closed in 2001 after the outbreak of BSE in Europe. Agricultural exports accounted for only 8 percent of all EU exports to China in 2017, but this is expected to grow.

The EU has become China’s largest trading partner. Goods worth EUR 1.5 billion are exchanged between the EU and China on a daily basis. Both sides want to set up a joint working group to discuss reforming the WTO. “The WTO may not be perfect, but it remains the only existing organisation with clear rules and a mechanism for resolving disputes,” said Hans-Dietmar Schweisgut, Head of the European delegation in Beijing.