James Cleverly’s China visit, market trends and collaboration opportunities

📣 Summary:

  • Hot Topic: James Cleverly visits China – a step “in the right direction”
  • Chinese Consumer Market: Latest trends and insights
  • China Sector Insight: China’s new materials industry & UK-China collaboration
  • IP Corner: What drives IP commercialisation in China?
  • New face @ Crayfish.io: Welcome Lily

Hot Topic

In the first visit of a UK foreign secretary to China for over 5 years, James Cleverly has a mission – mending bilateral relations deteriorated in recent years due to a range of reasons by resuming high level “face to face” dialogue. This was accomplished after he met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and Vice President Han Zheng on 30 Aug.

“One of the things that has really struck me over the last few years is that where you lose that face to face interaction, the regular communications, there are more opportunities for, perhaps misinterpretations, mistrust, errors,” he told BBC, and “part of this trip is about making sure we re-establish those lines of communications. So we can speak directly and unambiguously on the areas where we disagree. But we can also look at opportunities to work together where it is in our mutual interest to do so.”

UK businesses, particularly those operating or interested in the Chinese market, welcome the latest improvement in UK-China relations.  Chris Torrens, BritCham Vice Chair hailed Cleverly’s visit to China as “a really good step in the right direction” , and hoping it can help  “move that dial from the ‘wait and see’ approach that foreign investors have had so far this year.”

We at Crayfish.io, like many in the British business community, hope “engage”, or wider and deeper engage, would follow. As our CEO Ting Zhang put it, “China’s economy remains an attractive prospect for more UK businesses to get involved in despite its recent slower growth. Let’s hope that some progress could be made from today’s talks, regardless of the disagreement on some thorny issues.”

A lot can and has happened over five years, Covid and its economic impact, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and a range of bilateral issues that the two countries disagree on, all of which made it all the more important to engage with China, to keep talking, on all three pillars in UK’s approach to China, revealed in April 2023: protection of national security, allies in the Indo-Pacific and across the world, and direct engagement with China to promote stable relations.

As Mr. Cleverly said, “I think on a trip like this, it’s difficult to distil it down into one single simple message.”

Extended reading:

Chinese Consumer Market: trends and insights

One of the most important changes foreign companies involved in China can’t afford to ignore (if they want to stay there, that is) has to do with consumer behaviour, and the emerging market trends.

Known for its rapid evolution, the Chinese consumer market has reached a pivotal juncture in 2023. Driven by a burgeoning middle class, digital innovation, shifting consumer behaviours, and generational gaps, the market continues to present both opportunities and challenges for businesses aiming to tap into its potential.

These changes and forces behind them have been illustrated in detail in several recent reports, of which two made their way to our summer reading list:

  •  Mind the Generation Gap, a recent report from Boston Consulting Group(BCG) which digs deep into each generation and gives fascinating insights, most of which are eye opening even to some “China veterans”. Do you know how many generations make up 80% of China’s population? Which of them spend the most and most freely? How do each generation’s priority lists look like?
  •  Five trends are reshaping China’s consumer market, by McKinsey, which highlights five trends that are shaping consumer behaviour in China now to shed light on some critical questions around consumer sentiment, consumers’ wallet size, their likes and dislikes, and the way they spend their money.

So we know that Chinese middle class is still expanding and spending, but apparently smarter and pickier over quality and brands, young consumers have their own preferences, whimsical sometimes, health and education are important across generations, and, as Chinese ecommerce veteran Josh Gardner at Kungfu Data claims, “ecommerce still the king of retail” in China.

On the action recommendation lists are phrases such as rolling reviews, keeping nimble, consistent presence throughout clients’ decision making process, innovative brand building and supply chain management.

Yes, insights and action plans are all important when it comes to engaging with China or the Chinese market. While diplomats and politicians are making cautious moves towards resetting bilateral relations, UK companies might as well prepare for their own action plans to tap into the huge potential in China.


China Sector Insight: China’s new materials industry & UK-China collaboration

What are the drivers and characteristics of the development in China’s new materials industry? Would you be interested to know the various collaborations happening between Chinese and UK in both commercial and academic areas?

Our latest China Sector Insight article focuses on China’s industrial policies, describes the developments in the sector, and explores potential business opportunities between the industry stakeholders in China and the UK.

Read the full insight on Crayfish.io or on LinkedIn.


IP Corner – IP commercialisation

Despite numerous regulatory and investment hurdles, China’s IP commercialisation has boosted its R&D to accommodate fundamental investment research through basic, applied, & experimental avenues. Take a look at our breakdown and comparison


New face @ Crayfish.io

In August we welcomed Lily Rathbone (李曼汐)to start her work experience in our office at Cambridge.

Crayfish’s commitments in delivering beneficial and efficient strategies to succeed in China align perfectly with Lily’s own professional aspirations and we were pleased to offer her an opportunity to learn from and contribute to Crayfish’s development.

Read what Lily says about her experience here.