China–Britain Business Council

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The China–Britain Business Council (CBBC) is the leading British organisation promoting trade and investment between the UK and China.[1]

China–Britain Business Council
Abbreviation CBBC
Formation 1954
Type Trade Promotion - NGO/Non-Profit
Headquarters London


Graham Cartledge CBE, Peter Batey CMG OBE, Sir Tom Troubridge, Nicholas Holt

Board Members Mr Neil Sampson, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles KCMG LVO, Mr Duncan Clark OBE, Mr Gordon Orr, Mr Kenneth Macpherson, Mr John McLean OBE FCA, Mr Andrew Lambert, Ms Bridget Walsh, Ms Catherine Li, Mr David Roth, Mr Phillip Thomson, Mr David King, Dr Andrew Moss, Mr Jonathan Bewes, Ms Katie Lee, Dr David Pilsbury,

Mr David Sayer.
Key people

James Sassoon, Baron Sassoon (Chairman)

Matthew Rous (Chief Executive)

The objective of CBBC is to assist UK organisations to do business in China, to work with Chinese companies in the UK and to support UK-China partnerships in third markets. It works in close collaboration with the Department for International Trade (DIT), for whom it delivers China business development services.[2]

CBBC also cooperates closely with the private sector and trade associations, the British Embassy and Consulates in China; the British Chambers of Commerce in China, and the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the UK and the Devolved Administrations, as well as local chambers and other relevant organisations across the UK.

In addition, CBBC organises missions to the Chinese market; identifies business opportunities; and provides research as well as a range of other practical services for UK companies in the market.

CBBC also hosts inward delegations from China, arranges events in the UK and China, and hosts business events for all senior Chinese leaders visiting the UK.[3]

CBBC operates has a staff based in 11 regions in the UK and 13 cities in China. The main China office is in Beijing, while the other offices are located in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Chengdu, Qingdao, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Xi'An and Changsha.[4]

CBBC also provides an in-house research service that is specifically tailored to the needs of each company. All research is carried out by CBBC's project managers across the China offices. CBBC has conducted such research projects in a wide range of sectors, including both product and service industries.[5]


The organisation's history dates back to the early 1950s when British companies were among the first to trade with Communist China. That was the 48 Group of Companies (established in April 1954). At the same time, the British government had a semi-official trade body known as the Sino-British Trade Council[6] which promoted British participation in trade fairs and exhibitions in China. Although the UK was the first Western country to recognize the People's Republic of China, the PRC did not fully recognize the UK until 1972 (see Sino-British relations).

The China–Britain Trade Group was established in 1991 when the 48 Group merged with Sino-British Trade Council,[7] at the instigation of the (then) UK Department of Trade and Industry.

After the first six months, CBTG had a membership of 100 British companies, large and small, paying an annual subscription. Members were able to attend exclusive meetings with Chinese visitors, attend specialist workshops, and had priority access to special events.

A big incentive of membership for many was the provision of services by the CBTG's two China offices. As the number of offices grew, CBTG continued to offer this service to members, and it is still a benefit of membership today.

The early 1990s saw a renewal of high-level visits from China to the UK In November 1992 vice-premier Zhu Rongji was the first Chinese leader to take part in a seminar with British business in the UK, when the Stock Exchange was the venue for presentations from privatised industries, organised by CBTG and the Stock Exchange.[8]

The biggest events of the mid-1990s were the huge business groups taken to China by Michael Heseltine, as trade minister in 1995, then as deputy prime minister in 1996. CBTG was involved in putting together the business groups which accompanied the deputy prime minister. In 1996 a decision was made to allow member companies to appoint representatives in China and rent space in CBTG offices, which would provide services to them. Visiting CBTG Beijing that year, Michael Heseltine coined a name for this service: the China Launchpad. This has since become a popular service which the China–Britain Business Council still offer UK companies.

The return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 led to warmer relations with the UK. Less than a month after his appointment as premier in 1998, Zhu Rongji was back in the UK, where a CBTG dinner in London's Guildhall attracted 900 guests.[9]

That year, the organisation changed its name to the China–Britain Business Council (CBBC), to reflect the growth of all round business between the UK and China encompassing investment, trade, licensing and other forms of business activity.[10]

In November 1999, the UK received the first head of state from the People's Republic of China, Jiang Zemin, who was greeted by a CBBC organised business lunch at the Banqueting House.[11]

In the UK, CBBC's promotion of opportunities in China has never stopped. In its first year, there began a long tradition of organising a nationwide programme of seminars and conferences. Since then there has been a continuous programme of conferences and seminars with VIP speakers, briefings around the country for groups of exporters, and meetings with Chinese industrial and provincial leaders.

Lord Powell, a former foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, took over the presidency of CBBC in 1998.[12] His first task was to accompany Prime Minister Tony Blair to China with a business delegation. The following year saw visits to the UK by then Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao,[13] and President Jiang Zemin.[14] CCPIT chairman Wan Jifei followed in 2001, and in October that year, the then Vice-President Hu Jintao also came to the UK.

Sir David Brewer, Former Lord Mayor of the City or London, became CBBC Chairman in 2007, and continued to push forward CBBC's contribution to UK-China trade and business exchange, and he has now, through his career, made well over 100 trips to China.

In the new millennium, China's economic strength has grown exponentially, intensified by WTO accession in 2001. As China opens its door wider to foreign participation, new trade promotion sectors have emerged including education, leisure, branding and communications technologies, and CBBCs regular trade missions in numerous sectors reflect this. Outsourcing has become a major field of operations as most companies looking to outsource production will consider China. Simultaneously, as the world's fastest growing market, most exporters will look at the Chinese market.

Though the pioneering feel of the early years may have gone, and China has changed beyond all recognition since that time, CBBC is still filling a vital role of informing, advising, and organising services for British business in China.[15]

In 2013, Lord James Sassoon was announced as the new CBBC Chairman.[16] This was also the year that CBBC celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding.[17] China-Britain business relations have become strong in recent years with the support of CBBC. In 2014, Chinese premier Li Keqiang visited the UK with Lord Sassoon jointly hosting a state dinner on honour of Mr Li, attended by 650 British and Chinese political and business dignitaries.[18] In 2015, Lord Sassoon as Chairman of CBBC hosted the UK-China Business Summit during President XI Jinping's visit to the UK.[19]


The objectives of CBBC are:

  • Overall to maximise Britain's trade with China;
  • To encourage British firms and organisations with appropriate capabilities to enter the China market;
  • To help British companies identify profitable business opportunities in China;
  • To support the activities of British companies in China;
  • To provide particular assistance and encouragement to SMEs.[20]


Market insight

  • Take advantage of up to date information on a given market, together with broader, sector specific information provided by British business groups in countries that interest you
  • Identify challenges and opportunities and understand the nuances of doing business in a particular country or region

Getting started overseas

  • British business centres – a physical base to help get you started, with access to wi-fi and other office facilities, and fellow companies on hand from the local business network
  • Matchmaking services – introductions to agents, suppliers and distributors and potential customers
  • Professional business services – introductions to trusted lawyers, accountants, translators, tax advisors, other professional support services

Building market share

  • Advice on the best routes to market, whether that's through a joint venture or establishing a representative office
  • Support for launches and marketing new products and services
  • Access satellite offices in larger markets such as China, India or Brazil

Growing a regional presence

  • Introducing you to approved business-to-business support groups in the markets that interest you
  • Connecting you with regional distributors and other reputable contacts to get you started
  • Help you gain access to government and other relevant support

Additional services

  • Visa, business visa and work permit support
  • Market overview, research, competitor and sector analysis
  • Advice on cultural awareness
  • Tariff and customs research
  • Finance reporting and book-keeping
  • Relocation support
  • Language/translation support
  • Risk and budget management support
  • Policy advice[21]


China–Britain Business Council holds regular business events including Chinese delegations to the UK, seminars, webinars, Chinese inward missions, networking events and business clinics. CBBC has 4 pillar events each year:

  • China Business Conference[22]
  • SME China Forum[23]
  • China Outbound Conference[24]
  • Great British Brands Festival[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Landscapes of Doing Business in China: Practical Guidance for UK Businesses Selling Goods and Services into China - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  2. ^ "Study Links Scoop Shortlist | Bradford Chamber of Commerce". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  3. ^ "China–Britain Business Council | インターネット内の検索結果 |". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  4. ^ "Doing Business in China 2014 - Edinburgh". 2014-03-06.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "AIM25 text-only browsing: School of Oriental and African Studies: China Association". Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  7. ^ "48 Group Club | About The Club". Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  8. ^ "The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) | ChinaGoAbroad". Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  9. ^ "Moments, meetings and milestones|2015 Xi Visit UK|". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  10. ^ "China – Britain Business Council (CBBC) | Corporate NGO partnerships". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  11. ^ "Treaty and trade". Financial Times. 2008-10-14. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  12. ^ "CBBF Issue 37, June 14". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  13. ^ "Chinese Vice-premier Meets CBBC President". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  14. ^ "Visit by President Jiang Zemin to Six Countries in Europe, Africa and Asia". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  15. ^ China-Britain Business Review – 50th Anniversary Edition
  16. ^ "Lord Sassoon". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  17. ^ "'New heights' in Sino-British trade and investment -". Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  18. ^ "UK poised to push for more Chinese investment". Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  19. ^ "UK-China Business Summit held in London". Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  20. ^ "House of Commons - Trade and Industry - Minutes of Evidence". Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  21. ^ "China - Export Britain". Export Britain. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  22. ^ "China Business Conference - TPP". TPP. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  23. ^ "100 from China in huge city trade link". Nottingham Post. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  24. ^ "The CBBC China Outbound Conference 2014 | The China Times". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  25. ^ "The CBBC Great British Brands Festival 2015". Retrieved 2015-12-04.

External links[edit]