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Forum marks six decades of Sino-UK ties

By Zhang Chunyan in London (China Daily)

09:16, July 08, 2013

The British 48 Group Club, which 60 years ago broke a trade embargo Western economies had imposed on China, is scheduled to visit Beijing and take part in a forum in this week.

In 1953, a group of British businessmen embarked on a journey from London to Beijing, to break the trade embargo that slowed China's recovery from previous conflicts.

The trip to China was tough. It took the team seven days to fly to Hong Kong, at a time when people in Washington "were trying hard to stop people going to China" and the Cold War was threatening world peace. The team then overcame all kinds of obstacles over three days to finally reach Beijing.

The group - led by John Boyd Orr, the first director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization - included Jack Perry, a British businessman who organized the mission, and Professor Joan Robinson, a distinguished Cambridge economist.

The 10-day journey was remembered as the historic Icebreaker Mission. The group pioneered mutually beneficial relations, signing trade agreements with China.

These businessmen from British companies later formed The 48 Group Club, also called The Icebreakers, a British independent business network committed to promoting relations with China.

The trailblazing initiative has since become a tradition in China-UK history.

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