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CBBC Celebrates


the south-western city of Chengdu. In 1998, Sir Charles Powell (later

Lord Powell), a former foreign affairs adviser to Margaret Thatcher, became CBTG president. As he explains in the interview with FOCUS (see page 20), one of his priorities was to inject a greater commercial concentration into the group’s management. He also felt that the organisation’s focus on trade was too narrow and should be expanded to embrace investment and business. The China-Britain Trade Group changed its name to the China-Britain Business Council, or CBBC. In October 1998, Prime Minister

Tony Blair visited China, and on his return addressed a day-long confer- ence organised by CBBC. The follow- ing year, Peter Nightingale succeeded John Beyer as chief executive. This period also marked significant CBBC events for visiting Chinese leaders. One of these was for Zhu Rongji again, this time as premier, in April 1998 at the Guildhall. In November 1999, President Jiang Zemin became the first visiting head of state from the People’s Republic of China. That the newly renamed CBBC held a business lunch for the president at its own banquet house was clear proof of the organisation’s high status.

In the late 1990s CBBC began to

provide a tailored market research service carried out by the China offices. By the end of the decade, bilateral trade was worth £4.7 billion of which exports were worth £1.2 billion.


The year 2001 was another important one for China, when, in December, the country formally joined the World Trade Organisation. China’s commitment


OPPOSITE PAGE: CBBC’s current Chairman Lord Sassoon; ABOVE: Prime Minister David Cameron with China’s then-Premier Wen Jiabao during his 2009 UK visit; LEFT: Sir David Brewer with Wen Jiabao

to join the international trade and financial community, as well as its promise to open a number of economic sectors to outside investment, signalled its intention to be permanently integrated into the world economy. The economy’s rapid growth led to China accumulating the largest foreign exchange reserves of any country, attracting more inward investment than any other develop- ing nation and becoming the world’s largest exporter and trading nation. Expanding its network of UK offices, CBBC opened an office in the north-east in 2000, while in China, the organisation opened offices in Qingdao and Shenzhen in 2001. That same year, CBBC took missions focusing on agriculture, trade, education, healthcare, SMEs

and entrepreneurs into the country. In 2003, a new generation of lead-

ership under President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao assumed control, and China’s economy continued its transformation and modernisation. British companies continued to take advantage of the country’s oppor- tunities, while CBBC opened its seventh and eighth China offices in Nanjing (2004) and Shenyang (2005) respectively.

Meanwhile, in the UK, CBBC

was extending its reach, opening an office in the east of England in 2005, headed by Chris Cotton. It also adopted a new membership structure, offering different mem- bership rates depending on the size of company and creating a new category of associate membership. In 2006, Stephen Phillips suc-

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