China partnership even more important post Brexit – Sorrell

With the political world in widespread turmoil, the business community has continued to roll its sleeves up and get on with the job in hand.

And one country which sees no sign of slowing down is China, thanks to its burgeoning middle class and desire by home grown brands to be global players.

Speaking at the launch of the Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2017, hosted by Lord Wei of Shoreditch, WPP and Google, Lord Bates, Minister of State at the Department for International Development, noted that in 1981, the population of China was 1 billion and 88% of the country lived in extreme poverty.

Fast forward to 2017 and the population has increased to 1.3 billion, with just 4% considered to be poor. This is an incredible achievement given the time frame.

Risk takers and entrepreneurs

Lord Bates was also candid about the role of governments in the economy and made it clear it is not politicians responsible for job creation but rather the risk takers and entrepreneurs in business.

And who better to illustrate this idea than Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of global advertising giant WPP who, while in no means in favour of the decision taken by the British people on 23 June 2016, was quite clear that in a post-Brexit world, UK relations with China will be even more critical.

Speaking at the House of Lords event, Sir Martin also acknowledged the open approach to trade  of the Chinese government in contrast to the rather insular Obama and Trump administrations in the US.

Three-pronged strategy

This approach has been borne out of a three-pronged strategy by the Chinese:

  1. A move from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China’
  2. A move away from ‘speed’ to ‘quality’
  3. A transition from just ‘products’ to ‘brands’.

One such example of this evolution is drone manufacturer whose devices have taken 722 million images in the last 12 months.

To illustrate the scale, Danny Zheng, VP of Marketing at said if each image had been printed on A4 paper and laid out side by side, they would cover 5,056 football pitches.

Most innovative

The brand has recently been listed with Google and Tesla as one of the most innovative on the planet by Fast Company.

Similarly, smartphone manufacturer Huawei continues to shine and Gordon Luo, CEO of UK and Ireland explained that the brand has invested $44 billion in research and development. As an illustration of this investment, its Chinese campus houses a 50,000 strong workforce.

So while the UK lurches from one negotiation to the next to meet a favourable Brexit deal, we must keep our eye further afield and embrace the opportunity in the East.


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