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UK business community says its ready to deepen cooperation with China

ISLAMABAD (PEN) : Business leaders in the United Kingdom said that they stand ready to boost mutually beneficial cooperation with China, a country that has become even more important to a post-Brexit UK.

The remarks were made on Monday during the “Icebreakers” 2024 Chinese New Year celebration, jointly hosted by the 48 Group Club, the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCCUK) and the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC).

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 embargoes on the newly-founded People’s Republic of China.

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

“Practice has fully proved that closer cooperation between China and the UK not only serves the fundamental interests of both sides but also contributes to world peace and prosperity,” said Chinese Premier Li Qiang in his congratulatory message to the event read out by Chinese Ambassador to Britain Zheng Zeguang.

Business leaders pose for a group picture during the

Business leaders pose for a group picture during the “Icebreakers” 2024 Chinese New Year celebration, London, UK, February 5, 2024. /People’s Daily

“It is hoped that people with vision from all walks of life in both countries will carry forward the ‘icebreaking’ spirit, continue to take active and vigorous actions and make new contributions to the friendship between the two people and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries at a higher level,” Li said in the message.

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, chair of the CBBC, said in his speech, “China matters more than it’s ever done to the United Kingdom, to post-Brexit Britain.”

“You look at some of the great British companies represented here. Their profits, their prosperity depends on the enormous Chinese market, whether it’s selling Range Rovers or pharmaceuticals, or financial services, Chinese consumers like British brands, ranging from the Premier League to Peppa Pig,” he said.

Stephen Perry, president emeritus of the 48 Group Club, said that China is advancing at a greater pace than anyone understands, and any strategy based on stopping China will not succeed. The history of UK-China relations has shown that engagement and cooperation is the only right choice, Perry added.

Rio Tinto Chair Dominic Barton said, “China is not only an important market for us, it is a source of innovation. It is a source of talent, and a source of partnership as we work in other parts of the world together, so an extremely important part of our organization.”