The Icebreakers Award Reception

The 48 Group Club held its Annual Icebreaker Award on Wednesday 9 December at the Chinese Embassy in London.

The evening was hosted by His Excellency Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and included speeches of tremendous resonance – all made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of Cathay Pacific and Standard Chartered Bank. After opening words from Paul Cruttenden, Europe General Manager of Cathay Pacific, who spoke of Hong Kong as a real entry point to the Silk Roads, the 48 Group Club Vice-Chairman Keith Bennett invited Ambassador Liu Xiaoming on to the stage.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming used his speech to congratulate those who were to be awarded 48 Group Fellowships and to outline his vision for the creation of a ‘golden era’ of Sino-British relations. He highlighted this by stating:

“Today, the ‘thick ice’ that once blocked China-UK exchanges has long gone for good. But the ‘icebreaking’ spirit initiated by the 48 Group 60 years ago is certainly not outdated.”

The Ambassador then presided, presenting certificates to those who had been selected to receive Fellowship Awards, namely:

Sir Martin Davidson, Chairman, Great Britain China Centre

Lord Michael Bates, Minister of State at the Home Office

Sir Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills

Allan Cook, Chairman, WS Atkins

Professor Chris Rudd, Provost of the University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Bingjun Si, Chairman, China Chamber of Commerce (UK) (founded December 2015)

This was followed by a speech from Bill Winters, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, on behalf of the new Fellows, reminding us of the bank’s uninterrupted presence in China for more than 150 years.

Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, closed by thanking the Ambassador and his wife, Mme Hu Pinghua for their hospitality and the sponsors for their generous support.

He reminded us of the initial vision of those who were responsible for founding the 48 Group – people such as Jack Perry, Roland Berger, Tod Sloane, and Percy Timberlake, and of their close Chinese colleagues, like Nan Hanchen, Lei Renmin, Lu Xuchang and Ji Chaoding, who had all worked under the direct leadership of Premier Zhou Enlai. Their common vision was that China would return. Therefore, they had re-opened trade between China and the West and had persisted with their mission courageously. Our founders had been inspired and encouraged to take up this work by the great Cambridge scholars Professors Joan Robinson and Richard Kahn and Dr Joseph Needham.

Now, Stephen Perry said, the 21st Century was opening up with China’s New Normal and the New Silk Roads. The 22nd Century was being created in the 21st through these ideas and initiatives. The 48 Group now focuses on understanding China’s long term plans and their impact on the West – and on how the West can thrive through active participation in these new endeavors.

The evening was rounded off with the opportunity for members, friends and staff of the Embassy to chat informally over a buffet dinner.