8th UK-China Leadership Forum

On 16th-20th November 2015, GBCC organised the 8th annual UK-China Leadership Forum in Beijing and Shanghai, with a 14-strong Parliamentary delegation from the UK led by former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke and former EU Trade Commissioner Lord Mandelson meeting with Chinese ministers and senior officials.

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Delegates to the 8th UK-China Leadership Forum, 17 November 2015

The Forum was organised in partnership with the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party (IDCPC) with the support of long term sponsors, BP and Barclays. This flagship political dialogue between the UK-China provides a high level channel for engagement between UK Parliamentarians and senior Chinese politicians to strengthen mutual understanding and discuss issues of common concern.

Taking place just three weeks after the landmark State Visit of President Xi Jinping to the UK, the Forum focussed on best to capitalise on the success of the State Visit to deliver beneficial outcomes for both countries. The participants on both sides demonstrated a keen appetite for engagement and this was reflected in the make-up and tone of the 8th Forum with a wide range of topics on the table for discussion, from the working together on global hotspots, to financial sector reform and transparency cooperation under the G20.

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8th UK-China Leadership Forum in session

This Forum also saw the highest level of participation of politicians on both sides to date, with the Chinese side led by IDCPC Minister Wang Jiarui and supported by Vice Ministers Long Guoqiang and Chen Fengxiang, and several Chevening Scholarship alumni. The UK delegation consisted of 14 senior Parliamentarians led by co-leaders, Rt. Hon Kenneth Clarke MP and Lord Mandelson – who last year became GBCC’s honorary President -- and included several Forum alumni including Richard Graham MP and the Rt. Hon Liam Byrne MP as well as several new participants including Charlotte Leslie MP and two representatives of the SNP for the first time – Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP and Hannah Bardell MP. UK delegation participants had an 80-minute meeting with Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao, who paid tribute to the UK-China Leadership Forum as playing an important role in the development of relationships between the two countries and in developing the relationship between the Chinese party and UK political parties.

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[from left] Lord Clement-Jones, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP, and Mark Garnier MP

UK delegates raised several points of concern, including the importance of international cooperation on counterterrorism in the wake of the Paris attacks in which 129 people died, the need for further economic reforms and further opening of Chinese markets, including financial markets, to UK companies and support for developing the rule of law and greater legal certainty for business as a pre-condition for achieving long term economic prosperity and stability.

In addition to the core Forum discussions, the delegation also participated in a business roundtable jointly organised with the China Britain Business Council (CBBC) and the China Centre for Economic Cooperation (CECC), at which top UK and Chinese business representatives discussed challenges faced by their businesses and future opportunities, including UK-China partnerships to develop third country markets and cooperation aimed at bringing further Chinese investment to the UK.

The delegation made a brief field visit to Shanghai which included a visit to CELAP, the Communist Party’s School in Shanghai, where they discussed local governance reform. They also attended a panel discussion on Women in Leadership at the China-Europe Business School.

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Women in Leadership Event, Shanghai, 19 November 2015

Discussions at the 8th Leadership Forum indicated a strong appetite on both sides for closer engagement between the UK and China in a broad range of fields. The diversity of UK participants showed just how with China’s rise, there is more interest – and need - across UK Parliamentarians to engage further and better with their Chinese counterparts on issues from the local to the global, whether it is on gender issues, advancing the rule of law and elderly care and health, innovation, UK-China partnerships in Africa or investment in the Northern Powerhouse.

Date posted: 01 April 2016

Categories: Political Dialogues


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