Today was a date for China related news, views and people. The AGM reported a good rise in membership – more companies interested in doing business with China - and elections to the Board included Gilles Albaredes from Crystal CG International, Harvey Davenport from British Sugar plc and Sir Tom Troubridge from PwC.
The Annual Summer Lecture was delivered by Mr Long Yongtu who served as Vice-Minister of China's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC) and was chief negotiator for China's WTO accession. It was extremely interesting – he talked about five key factors defining China at the moment - the increase in consumption and the growth of the middle class; the growth of China's service industry; the ageing population; the break up of the monopoly of state owned companies in favour of SMEs and the growth of foreign direct investment (FDI). I particularly liked his comment about China changing its view on transparency and a saying (which I hadn't heard before) - "If the water is too clear, there will be no fish" along with the more familiar Deng Xiaoping's saying that you "cross the river by feeling the stones". There followed an extensive Q and A session – before Mr Long Yongtu left for the airport - and the rest of us stayed to enjoy CBBC's hospitality in the fine surroundings of the Royal Geographical Society