China is burgeoning with commercial opportunities for UK enterprises: bilateral trade has more than doubled in 5 years and President Xi Jinping’s state visit at the end of 2015 heralded a ‘golden era’ in the relationship between Britain and China. For individual British businesses, the challenge now is how to capitalise on those opportunities. In that, the LEPs have a vital role to play.
China is one country that spans the same amount of territory as the 50 countries of Europe. China’s population is double that of Europe. China is divided into 34 provinces – most of them larger than individual European countries, both geographically and economically. Those provinces are then sub-divided into regions and cities, each of which are accountable to the next level up in the national hierarchy.
The UK being a much smaller country than China, there are fewer levels in the heirarchy between central and local government. This leads to a frequent mismatch between parties in China-UK discussions, with several important levels of Chinese engagement being ignored. The deleterious results are predictable.