THE BLOG
05/12/2013 08:21 GMT | Updated 04/02/2014 05:59 GMT

The Truth About the PM's Trade Delegation to China

If you are an intelligent person, you form your own opinion when you read the news. You understand that certain papers have certain agendas and you interpret articles accordingly. You take things with a pinch of salt.

But not until I joined the recent trade delegation to China, did I realise just how politicised - and hence inaccurate - news becomes.

When you are part of a large initiative like this, you start being briefed about the event a long time before any "news" is published. I received briefings by phone and email, and a week before we left we were briefed in person by the Prime Minister at Number 10. Throughout the trip we have been party to many in-depth ministerial presentations that the news can, by necessity, only cover in brief.

The driving force behind the trade delegation is clear. Chinese import demands are set to rise to $3.4trillion between 2011 and 2020. This is a massive opportunity for Britain.

It has been re-iterated several times throughout the trip that this is the largest UK trade delegation, not just to China but to ever leave British shores. Even if no business opportunities were uncovered by the delegates, this would be a powerful message to send and of great import to British-Chinese relations. The delegation members are extremely diverse - Number 10 and the UKTI have worked hard to include startups and small business who are usually excluded from these trips. Far from being a plane full of Cameron's cronies, even delegates vocally critical of the government have been included.

There has been great opportunity on the trip to showcase existing contracts, or those that are in the process of being agreed between UK and Chinese organisations. Tim Reeve, COO of the Victoria and Albert museum, was able to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese museums that they are to provide consultancy to, the National Theatre is to produce War Horse for the Chinese market and Manchester based Chinese sauce brand Sweet Mandarin have finalised a contract to sell their sauce back into China, a move that their CEO Lisa Tse cheekily described as being like "selling snow to the Eskimos".

For each delegate on board this trip is offering a unique opportunity to learn about trade with China, and to start to make contacts that could one day lead to business deals like those already being celebrated. Much has been made in the news of Cameron's perceived lack of focus on human rights, but these trades that are being done by individual organisations will form the ties between our two countries that will help to prevent war and help the Chinese to lift more people from poverty and, gradually, reform their governance to be more in line with the West.

Why does no one write that in the newspapers?

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