British Business in China: Position Paper 2021

The British Business in China: Position Paper is a report created by the British chambers of commerce in China to provide advocacy and representation on behalf of British businesses operating in China. In these unprecedented times, there is more need than ever for British businesses to be able to speak with a strong, unified voice.

British businesses across a range of sectors in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Southwest China come together to raise the regulatory barriers that they face, areas of opportunity for bilateral cooperation and recommendations for market access reform.

The Position Paper is directly presented to the UK and China governments in order to directly inform trade policy and negotiations.

Key Recommendations

1. Enact clear, consistent, safe and practical travel processes between the UK and China.

2. Encourage the development of an attractive environment for global talent.

3. Enable the uniform implementation of beneficial market reform policies.

4. Ensure that the final iteration of cybersecurity legislation provides sufficient clarity and supports international R&D.

5. Expand pilot programmes to liberalise cross-border capital flows.

6. Establish a level playing field between private and state-owned enterprises.

Executive Overview

China’s GDP expanded by 2.3% in 2020, making it the only G20 economy that experienced growth last year. For many, business activity has returned to 2019 levels. Market confidence has grown. However, the majority of British businesses have stated that they have yet to feel any significant improvement in the business environment over the past year. Core challenges faced by British companies operating in the market remain. At the same time, ripple effects from tensions in the bilateral relationship could create further difficulties.

UK-China relations are at a pivotal point. Amongst UK politicians, support for objective, constructive dialogue with China is waning and public opinion in the UK has hardened against China. COVID-19 and restricted travel has blocked crucial cultural exchanges that underpin mutual trust and understanding, driving a wedge between China and the UK. This is detrimental both to finding solutions for global problems and to finding pathways to addressing our differences. The resumption of travel and openness to foreign trade cannot resolve all challenges but they can build common ground and enhance intercultural understanding. Both are vital to counterbalance narratives of disengagement.

Climate Action

Beyond regulatory challenges, we’ve also looked at what actions British businesses are taking to improve the sustainability of their operations in China and areas for UK-China cooperation. While there are challenges in the current political landscape, cooperation on environmental protection is more important than ever, and presents a unique set of opportunities for businesses in China. Success in the fight against climate change cannot occur without the largest economies and the largest companies agreeing targets, aligning on green standards and sharing best practice. The hosting of the COP 26 climate talks in Glasgow and COP 15 conference on biodiversity in Kunming provide timely opportunities for the UK and China to take leading roles in setting the agenda for change.

The two COP sessions nevertheless build on years of UK-China cooperation on climate action across governments, academia and businesses, from workshops on low-carbon innovation held in Hangzhou to alignments of standards for environmental protection information disclosure, green bonds and ESG data. British and Chinese companies have participated in the United Nations’ ‘Race to Zero’. British businesses in China have significant involvement in clean power generation, green transport, green industry standards, green manufacturing, and ESG investing and reporting. If the political will is sufficient and private enterprises are provided clear opportunities to contribute, cooperation can bring dividends in terms of coordinated, rigorous and effective global climate action.

Industries covered in the Position Paper

Get Involved

To register your interest in contributing to the next Position Paper or for further queries,

please contact

Position Paper 2020 – In the media

Following the publication of last years report the British chambers were pleased to see the findings of the Paper generating a great deal of interest in the press, with engagement on various different aspects of the Paper’s recommendations, from both in Chinese and global media outlets.

UK businesses in China say opening measures have little impact

British businesses in China said on Tuesday that Beijing’s recent market opening measures have had little benefit for them, while cyber security regulations threaten to “isolate” their local operations from their global networks.

Source: Financial Times 

Need a Better Dialogue Between U.K. and China: BritCham China

BritCham China’s chair St. John Moore spoke with Bloomberg on the findings of our recently released Position Paper, calls among businesses for a UK-China FTA and the need for a balanced and informed bilateral dialogue.

Source: Bloomberg

China should be top of post-Brexit wish list on trade, says British Chamber as it rejects ‘external pressure’

The report recommended easing controls on cross-border data sharing and capital flows to and from China, as well as pressing ahead with market reforms, including reducing its “negative list”, which bars access to the Chinese market for specified foreign companies.

Source: South China Morning Post

British Business Group Urges Post-Brexit U.K.-China Free-Trade Talks

The British Chamber of Commerce in China urged that the United Kingdom and China explore a free-trade agreement to help both countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Position Paper issued Tuesday by the chamber.

Source: Caixin Global

British Chamber of Commerce calls for China-UK free trade deal amid COVID-19, Brexit worries

The inability of senior management to return to China and for those that have regional or global roles based in China to conduct business travel is having a tangible and detrimental effect on investment and growth strategies, the paper noted.

Source: CGTN Global Business News

中英商会呼吁英政府开诚布公与中国合作 “不要屈从外部政治压力”


Source: Global Times

Previous Engagement

Last year the Position Paper ‘door knock’ outreach presented to the UK and China governments, including Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua, Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill, HM Ambassador Barbara Woodward, Madame Bao Ling and Trade Commissioner to China Richard Burn.

Download our previous reports