China on UK’s guest list for AI summit, Beijing relaxes curbs on foreign investment, and insights from UK tech companies operating in China…

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AI summit and China

China is on the guest list for the AI summit UK hosts in November. This is seen as an acknowledgment to the need for inclusive discussions and global cooperation in addressing AI risks, as Reuters reported.

This is also in line with the kind of  ‘deeper engagement with China’, as foreign secretary Cleverly puts it, where both countries have shared interests.

Tech expert Matt Clifford and former senior diplomat Jonathan Black have been tasked to lead preparations for the upcoming AI summit.

Rachel Tsang, Managing Director at British Chamber of Commerce in China (BritCham China) offers her reading:

Amidst the complex landscape of rapidly advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI), the UK’s decision to host the first major global summit on AI safety is a pragmatic acknowledgment of the need for inclusive discussions. In recognising the importance of involving China in these events, the UK takes a step towards a more balanced approach to AI-related challenges and opportunities, as well as prioritising on the ‘engage’ pillar where it is in the UK’s national interest. Positioned as the third global AI technology leader, following the US and China, the UK’s move to include China in addressing AI’s global issues is indicative of the collaborative, albeit cautious, global effort required in navigating the complexities of AI ethics and safety.

We’ll keep an eye out for the latest developments there.

China moves to relax curbs on foreign investment

From central to local, China is pushing for more foreign investment through a series of reform measures aiming at easing restrictions on cross-border flow of data and foreign capital in a bid to reinvigorate the trade and foreign investment sector.

Speaking at a news conference in Beijing, Sheng Qiuping, vice-minister of commerce, said the proposed reforms will enable the country’s FTZs to align with the high standards of international trade, thereby deepening institutional openness and fostering innovation and development across the entire industrial chain, China Daily reported.

Shanghai and Beijing governments made similar announcements around the same time, releasing draft policy documents for public comment. The new rules reflect significant reforms to ease restrictions on foreign capital in China, allowing free RMB exchange and unrestricted fund transfers for legitimate foreign investments.

These announcements came shortly before the 10th anniversary of the Shanghai FTZ, the first of its kind in China launched on Sept 29, 2013.

Other measures to optimise the business environment for foreign businesses include streamlined business visas in Shanghai and optimised cross-border data transfer for FIEs in Beijing. The proposed measures include implementing “systems for the cross-border security assessment of data for FIEs, PI protection certification, and the record-filing of standard contracts for the cross-border transfer of PI.”

In a bid to attract more foreign investment, China’s State Council, its cabinet, in August issued guidelines on overseas capital, saying authorities should increase protection of the rights and interests of outside investors, including strengthening enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights, Reuters reported earlier.

On a related note, China’s central bank and forex regulator met with foreign financial institutions and companies on Monday, as Beijing strives to attract overseas investment to support its recovery.The firms at the meeting, including JPMorgan, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Tesla, called on Beijing to optimise its business environment.

More on the subject:

EU and China

The EU has no intention to decouple from China but must protect its own interests, said EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis during his latest visit to China, noting a number of concerns over its trade issues, including the prevalence of government subsidies.

Dombrovskis was attending the 10th China-EU High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue in Beijing.

Reporting on the same event, Chinese official media

EU and China are ready to step closer, despite recent disputes, quoting visiting EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovsks saying the EU is willing to work with China to strengthen pragmatic cooperation on economics and trade, and push forward the sustained development of EU-China relations.

Disputes and disagreements persist.

China has warned the European Union to tread carefully when using trade weapons designed with Beijing in mind, following economic talks that delivered meagre concrete gains, reported South China Morning Post.

Vice-premier He Lifeng urges Brussels to ‘exercise restraint’ during talks with the EU’s trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis during talks in Brussels. He also expressed concern about an EU probe into electric vehicles, while Dombrovskis said he had conveyed ‘key messages’ over war in Ukraine.

More on the subject:

Insights: How Do You Tackle Those Problems in China?

More on investing or doing business in China. For UK tech businesses wanting to achieve global expansion, China is a player that cannot be ignored. In our recent roundtable discussion with several Cambridge-based tech startups, three Cambridge-based tech companies, Cambridge Mechatronics Ltd,  ION Science Ltd, and Cambridge GaN Devices Ltd, shed light and offered insights on some of the challenges and issues common to many UK tech businesses operating in China.

Several key issues emerged from the discussion as the main challenges UK businesses are tackling with –

  • Recruiting the right talents for key posts in China 
  • Managing working relationship with local partners 
  • Dealing with IP related issues
  • Overcoming cultural differences in a broad sense

These are consistent with other studies and surveys on the subject.

A highly emphasised point focused on the necessity of having a local, physical presence to overcome regulatory, cultural and business matters. Despite being an extremely common issue, hiring employees in China continues to be a laborious yet delicate process.

Although China is recognised as a mass-producer of extremely hard workers, finding the appropriate local candidate that has sufficient international experience to handle both the Chinese and foreign business operations is notably more difficult.

For technology startups seeking out highly skilled workers for specialised roles there is an even smaller pool to choose from.

Regulatory restrictions further complicate matters. As it stands, overseas businesses are unable to directly hire employees in China. In order to do so, they will need to establish a representative office/subsidiary in China or seek out a licensed provider that will recruit locally on their behalf. These hurdles are the named few amongst many that explain why UK businesses are struggling to secure the suitable recruits for their China operations.

The other critical issue that goes hand on band with sourcing difficulties is communication. We use communication as a general term that can be broken down into separate issues. In part we are referring to the linguistic difficulty with regards to understanding Mandarin and local dialects.

Even though English is considered as the universal language, it is important to note that in order to be valid in China any employment contracts must be in China’s official language, Mandarin. On the other hand, we are also referring to taking an empathetic approach to the wider cultural and professional boundaries. In China, group harmony and consensus is more highly regarded than individualism.

Therefore any cultural misunderstandings and tensions can rapidly lead to irrevocable damages to reputations and relationships. Unpacking similar Chinese and British cultural differences on a personal and professional level are essential for successfully recruiting and operating in China.

We at aim to encourage this expansion and will be elaborating on these issues and more over the next month. In the meantime, should you have any questions feel free to get in touch.

New face

In September we welcomed Enyun Li and Sarah W. to join our team at Cambridge.

Enyun is a professional with a rich and diverse background encompassing academic research, project management, and an unwavering commitment to delivering outstanding results.

She earned her PhD in Business Informatics, Systems, and Accounting from Henley Business School, University of Reading, equipping her with invaluable skills for analysing and meeting customer needs and driving business development.

Sarah joined our team as Head of Communication, bringing with her a set of transferable skills honed over her 20+ years of career in the media industry in UK, China and Canada.

Congratulations to both on taking the next step in their career!

Finally, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival from us all at! Enjoy your celebration with families and mooncakes!