Innovation, IP, Local Partners, and Reality Check – Keywords in UK-China Tech and Business Narratives

When it comes to UK-China trade, investment, and technology, some basic rules for success apply at all times, good and bad: to engage in open dialogues, learn from each other, share best practices, and work together.  A recent UK-China tech forum that ticked all the boxes reaffirmed our view: 

It’s crucial to re-assess the UK-China tech collaboration in light of the current political and geopolitical uncertainties; equally crucial is not to lose sight of the opportunities, particularly stemming from shared goals and joint efforts in search of tech solutions to challenges across sectors and borders. 

Crayfish’s founder and CEO, Ting Zhang, joined other panelists at the forum to assess the current state of the UK-China bilateral relationship, analyse its policy and business implications, discuss opportunities and prospects in this space, and share best practices on the ground.

Statistics show the bilateral trade between the UK and China has been growing at 20% per annum over the past five years, while mutual investments more than doubled, at a time of increased uncertainty and focus on economic security and supply chain resilience, a much less stable and assured environment than it used to be before the US-China trade war and conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, and Covid-19.

The need to work together in this space is a shared understanding between the UK and China, the latest examples of which are COP28 in December and the Bletchley Park Declaration signed in November by  28 countries including China, the UK, and the US. 

  • The Impact on China-related Business

Politics, geopolitical tensions, and more redlines aside, there still exist great opportunities for companies with the right set-up and approaches. 

Digital transformation is predicted to be the single biggest contributor to China’s GDP growth over the next five years, presenting significant opportunities for UK tech firms to assist clients in manufacturing, banking, healthcare, and agricultural sectors, to mention a few. That means opportunities for UK tech companies. 

  • IP protection and utilisation in China

Risks go hand in hand with opportunities. So what about market risks and possible mitigations in terms of doing business in China, particularly business involving hi-tech? For SMEs establishing local partnerships or using consultants or advisers could be cost-effective ways to mitigate compliance or market risks. For example, one Chinese supplier may find it necessary to form a deep partnership with a European or UK client on ESG strategy to stay ahead of the competition. 

IP safeguarding has been one of the main concerns for companies operating in China. Copycat threatens both domestic and foreign IP owners. has gone one step further from basic IP safeguarding to a strategic approach to IP commercialisation.   Listen here:

  • Recommendations

What are some of the best practices in entering or scaling your business in China, in words of those with first-hand experience on the ground?

Local partnership adds to your market and distribution competitiveness most of the time but in certain cases, particularly when data is involved, it is a must to comply with local regulations. That puts it on top of the recommendation list from the panelists at the UK-China forum organised by techUK. 

Coming next is choosing the right industry or sector, and the right size or scope of your business. Crayfish is there to help, providing expert advice and assisting throughout the whole process of setting up your China business, from planning to profit-yielding.

To sum up, while the dynamics, landscape, and market conditions for doing business in China have changed and companies have to incorporate geographical aspects into their China business strategies, great opportunities still exist. But to take advantage of these opportunities,  it helps to bear in mind these points: 💡Choose your industry 𝘄𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗹𝘆; 💡Leverage local partners and business groups for cultural insight, access, and market expertise; 💡In dynamic markets move quickly to stay ahead of domestic competition.