The All Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG) was established in 1997 to widen the parliamentary contribution to the UK-China bilateral relationship. The APPG’s mission is to ensure parliamentarians are kept well informed on China, and to act as a platform for discussions on all issues of importance to the UK-China relationship.
I was appointed to the APPGC as Vice Chair for Education & Culture. In this role I have organised and chaired a successful panel discussion on ‘the Changing Face of UK-China Education Links: Competition, Regulation, and Mobility Challenges’. Right now, the UK is the largest global provider of transnational education partnerships in China (at degree level and above), bringing £50 million to the UK economy last year. The UK is also a popular destination for Chinese students, with 1 in 5 international higher education students in the UK being Chinese. The full report of the panel discussion can be found here: http://appcg.org.uk/the-changing-face-of-uk-china-education-links-competition-regulation-and-mobility-challenges/
I was also fortunate enough to be part of the APPGC’s visit to China last September, promoting trade and investment between our two countries ahead of a state visit by President Xi in October. I’ve been interested in China for as long as I can remember, but the pace of change there since my last visit is truly astonishing and so are the opportunities for Newark and for Britain.
The links between Newark and China are surprisingly deep already. Our world class architects, Benoy are well known and involved in a wide array of exciting projects, Nottingham University is one of only three institutions to have created its own campus (in the city of Ningbo), Toot Hill is forging links and the Minster School has a “maths hub” alliance. I visited a factory supplied by NSK and saw British Sugar’s plans to invest out there. These are just the first forays of a much more profound relationship that will touch us all before long.
Britain is highly regarded, especially for education, innovation in advanced manufacturing, design and for financial services and there is a great appetite to work with us and indeed, to visit. When I said Nottingham, many replied, excitedly, “Robin Hood”, although overall, Sherlock, Downton and Harry Potter seem to be the cultural icons of the present day.
On the other hand, one realises what a challenge we have to our local jobs and future prosperity from this huge, dynamic and ambitious country, albeit one faced with massive challenges itself as it transforms from low tech manufacturing to high tech and a service sector economy.
Developing a deep and productive relationship, as the Chancellor set out last week, with a country whose government we disagree with on some fundamental issues is a hire wire act. However, part of Britain and Newark’s future must lie in being the best country at understanding and bridging the divide with China. I’m confident there will always be a role for Britain in the world and this will be one aspect of it.