A Message from the Chamber Chair - Rosie Hawes

Published on 2020-08-17

Dear Chamber Members and Friends,

This year continues to be unpredictable. While most parts of China are recovering at an impressive rate, many other countries are still suffering badly from the impact of COVID-19.

The Chamber is actively working to support members navigate the challenges presented in 2020. Understanding the pressures members are facing, the Chamber’s goal is to provide a platform to connect, share insights and promote achievements. We continue to collaborate closely with the other British Chambers in China to ensure our voice is heard both by the local authorities, and back home in the UK. For example, so far this year the Chamber has simplified our events registration system by upgrading to EventBank, introduced an SME Helpdesk, launched the 2020 Position Paper together with the Beijing er, and commenced the run up to the British Business Awards. The Chamber’s secretariat has also delivered over 70 offline and online events since the end of January, and somehow found the time to move to a new office.
 
Beyond day to day business issues and post-COVID recovery, members have two major concerns; how to handle current travel restrictions, and where future UK-China relations will lead. 
 
Because of the small size and nature of the secretariat, we are not in a position to charter flights as some other chambers have. Instead, we aim to support members by providing regular updates on the current travel restrictions, maintaining regular contact with airlines and other chambers, and gathering the latest advice on how to apply for the PU invitation letter. The application process appears to be gradually easing, and we are hearing more and more success stories of members able to return to China. We are sharing these experiences and best practices among members and remain hopeful that international flights can resume a higher capacity towards October. 
 
Here are the two most recent updates on travel advice that we would like to share with you. 
The Chinese Embassy in London has made two announcements over the weekend:
 
1) Updated requirements for Chinese Visa Applications (posted on the 15th of August)
 
Central to many discussions is how the rapidly changing geopolitical situation may impact increasingly complex UK-China relations. While we cannot predict the future, we are focusing efforts to promote British business in China, conscious that both our countries value the trading relationships and friendships built over many years and wish to secure these. The numbers speak for themselves – with total bilateral trade at £104.5bn in 2019, increasing year on year. Several members have recently expanded their presence in China and new British retail, e-commerce and SME businesses  are continuing to open here. We are supporting members to ensure this upward trajectory continues. 
 
British Business Awards (BBA)
 
One simple way to celebrate British commercial success in China is to get involved with the BBA. Applications closed last Friday on the 14th of August. We are glad to see this year’s Awards have received a strong selection of high-class applications across all ten award categories. In the following two weeks, each award’s judging panel will vet the applications and select five finalists per category. The finalists will be announced on the 3rd of September 2020. Further interviews will be arranged in September and the winners will be revealed at the Gala Dinner in Shanghai on the 29th of October 2020. We invite companies and individuals who are playing key roles in fostering constructive business relationship between our two countries to the Gala Dinner, joining the celebration of UK-China business success. 
 
If you have any enquiries on BBA, please contact James Dunn or Janet Jiang
 
The Show Goes On!
 
And finally, we will go ahead with both the Chamber’s annual corporate football tournament on the 17th of October, as well as the 2020 St Andrews Ball on the 28th of November at the Kerry Hotel Pudong. Further details will be announced soon.
 
I look forward to meeting some of you at these upcoming events!
 
On-going COVID-19 Support
 
The Chamber is investigating how best to support members and their families looking to return and is gathering current best practice from other chambers to better understand the situation and the support we could provide. For more information, please reach out to James Dunn.  
 
Best Regards,
 
Rosie Hawes
Chair, The British Chamber of Commerce Shanghai