Related News

Home » Feature

Best of British get a chance to shine

THE saying "best of British" is often used colloquially, uttered with ironic or even sardonic style in an "old boy" manner to those setting out on seemingly difficult or impossible tasks.

But currently it is being used without any of the old era trappings in China by the British Chamber of Commerce for its new business awards program, the second round of which will be launched this week in Shanghai.

The history of British trade activity in China is long and varied over a couple of centuries and its commercial entities have never really retreated from the Middle Kingdom, thanks to a government that was one of the first internationals to recognize in 1950 the People's Republic of China.

Proudly operating under the Union Jack in China these days are firms such as BP, Shell, Climate Change Capital, GSK, AstraZeneca, Dyson, Rolls Royce, British Sugar, Vodafone, Arup, Foster & Partners and a large number of banking, insurance and professional service companies.

Another area of prominence is education and training where there are substantial links between the United Kingdom and China, including Chinese who choose to study in the UK and investments in China by UK educational institutions and entrepreneurs.

Stepping up to the podium next week at Mesa & Manifesto on Julu Road to introduce the awards will be Duncan Clark, chairman of "The Best of British - The British Business Awards."

Clark is chairman of the Beijing-based company, BDA China, which was a finalist in the awards' entrepreneur category last year.

Previously an investment banker specializing in telecoms and media with Morgan Stanley in London and Hong Kong, he moved to China in 1994 for a year to establish BDA to serve the banks and telecoms, media companies and other financial institutions. But, familiar story, he never left.

"I'm the 'D' in BDA. The now retired 'B' stands for my Chinese co-founder Bohai and the 'A' stood for Associates," Clark said this week.

"Today we have over 40 people in Beijing and over 15 in New Delhi and specialize not only in the telecom/Internet/media sector but have built up expertise in high-growth sectors including education and training, retail and renewable energy."

"I'm a Brit who grew up in the UK, New Jersey and Paris - so I have a weird accent, but found my identity here where we are all lao wai after all," he said.

Clark lived in Shanghai from 1996 to 2000 where he was involved in a mobile phone rental business and a now defunct restaurant on Fuxing Road.

"I enjoy both Beijing and Shanghai, each have their charms, although I know we're often supposed to take sides," he said.In his spare time, he produces documentary films and runs a stock footage business (

"I produced with a Chinese partner and my London-based sister, who is ex-Sony Pictures, a film last year called 'My Beijing Birthday' which chronicles the experiences of students studying 'xiang sheng' in Beijing in 1996 as six-year-olds, and again in 2008 as young adults."

Clark is busy producing a documentary on public school students in Washington, D.C., who arrived last week for six weeks' of study in Beijing after learning Mandarin in Washington.?

He cites the creative industries as "my personal passion" for which he is "doing my bit" to push British involvement. "It's an area I think the UK has much to offer, especially in design, and the all important 'innovation' that China is rightly seeking," he said.

Clark sees the awards as being important on a number of levels to Britain and China. "Britain has a long history of free trade and openness to foreign investment and it is a major strategic imperative to engage with China on many levels, including business links," he said.

"Substantial progress has already been made, especially over the past decade. The UK is the biggest European investor in China and is the leading destination for Chinese investment in Europe - 63 Chinese companies are listed in London."

The "Best of British" awards team is advocating to UK companies the benefits of entering the awards to not only raise their profile in the UK, but also China.

"As this is the awards' second year, we are sharing with UK companies the benefits not just to raise their profile in China, but also in the UK.

"One Derbyshire-based company, FA-ST, a runner up last year, received good publicity locally as a result of its selection as a finalist," Clark said.

"I can testify to the importance that the Ambassador places on encouraging and assisting UK companies here," he said.

"I traveled with him and the China-Britain Business Council recently on a UK trade mission to Xi'an and saw firsthand his commitment to growing and diversifying trade and investment."

The importance of British companies engaging in trade with China is not lost on Clark but that is not surprising given his long-term commitment after having been through the establishment process. He accepts that not all companies "get it."

"China can be a challenging market for UK companies given distance, language difficulties, etc, but the downturn in Britain's traditional large trading partners in the EU and North America, plus challenges in the financial sector, have made China all the more important," he said.

"That's why we want to showcase winning UK-Chinese partnerships with the 'Right Partner Award' open to British organizations and institutions who have successfully engaged in formal partnership with the Chinese."

This award recognizes innovative structures such as joint ventures, strategic alliances or partnerships between a UK university or research institute and a Chinese counterpart, he said.

Clark is encouraging entries ( from British companies all over China and has been spruiking them in Xi'an and Chengdu.

The awards ceremony will be held in Beijing, Clark said, "but we will hand the torch to the British Chamber in Shanghai for the 2010 awards which will conclude with a ceremony during British Week at World Expo."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend