2023 in review and looking ahead to a prosperous Year of the Dragon
by Stuart Dunn
Executive Director, BritCham Shanghai
Dear Members and Friends,
In 2024, we enter the 109th year since the creation of the British Chamber of Commerce Shanghai (BritCham Shanghai). To have continued to remain relevant and meaningful throughout such a long period is a testament to those involved throughout its history.
The Year of the Dragon will see many members support the Chamber in its mission to lead the continuing development of positive and suitable relationships, on all levels, between China & the UK. The role of representing the UK and supporting its business interests lays in all of our hands.
Looking back at 2023, the overriding theme was the resumption of in-person meetings, activities and international travel. Many people saw their families and loved ones for the first time in 3 years, this also extended to many work colleagues and leadership teams. At the Chamber, we worked hard to support and lead this work relaunching initiatives, such as industry roundtables, the Global Visionary series as well as launching activities in Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui, all with great support and attendance.
2023 also saw the launch of a new initiative the Virgin Atlantic Great British Day Out that saw 1500+ people and 60+ organisations and vendors support a day celebrating culture and community. The Chamber ran 130 events throughout the year! A huge thank you and congratulations go out to both the team and those members who supported all of the activities throughout the year, many created and managed at short notice and in difficult situations to make this possible.
<The inaugural British Day event in May 2023>
2023 has also been a year of re-building, consolidating and in many cases, just surviving. The predicted boost in consumer spending for Q2 proved ambitious with continued and increasing uncertainty in many global markets, and an increased number of conflicts and disasters. As well as the knock-on effects many businesses and people have been directly impacted. Our thoughts and prayers go to all of those involved.
As part of the opening up, we saw many faces come and go. We would like to again thank the efforts of diplomats, such as John Edwards (then British Trade Commissioner for China) and Chris Wood (then British Consul-General Shanghai), and welcome Lewis Neil and Matt Burney into those respective positions.
We also welcomed His Majesty’s Ambassador to China Dame Caroline Wilson DCMG to witness our new office contract signing with the Hangzhou & Gongshou district governments. These were some of the many visits and events we ran with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Department for Business and Trade (DBT). Building an environment where the UK government and the membership discuss issues, opportunities and work closely together is an important and meaningful role that the Chamber offers, and one we will look to continue to deepen over 2024 and beyond.
<New Zhejiang Office contract signing ceremony in October 2023>
When mentioning faces going, I would like to give a special mention to our outgoing Chair, Ray Chisnall. With over 12 years of commitment to the Chamber, including 5 years with the Chamber’s Executive Committee (ExCo) – in 2019 as a Co-opted Member, in 2020 as Vice Chair and then as Chair from 2021. Ray played a decisive and hands-on role in guiding and leading the Chamber through the difficulties of COVID-19. You will have indeed left the organisation in a stronger place than when you began with many firsts and successes. I look forward to you continuing your support and involvement in your new role with Gleeds in the UK and seeing you back in Shanghai occasionally.
<BritCham Shanghai 2024 Annual General Meeting in January 2024>
With Ray concluding his tenure, stepping into the Chair role is Kirsten Johnston, Founder & CEO of JWDK, as well as being the Vice Chair for the past two years. Kirsten also led BritCham Shanghai’s rebranding project.
Chair, BritCham Shanghai
Our new Vice Chair is Grace Guan (Regional Director, China and East Asia, Edinburgh Global, University of Edinburgh); and we also welcome Garry Russell (Head of College, Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong) and Richard Shore (Transformation Director China, Jaguar Land Rover) to the ExCo.
Sincere gratitude is extended to the entire ExCo, committee leadership teams, individual members and the secretariat, I would like to give a special thank you to Janet Jiang, our Deputy Executive Director. Janet is entering her 13 years of service to the Chamber and is behind everything the team achieves, including leading the ESG Summit and Awards. The following sections will show what a fantastic year 2023 was for the Chamber and provide the strong foundations for our growth and increasing activities in 2024.
Thank you all again for your contributions and support, and we look forward to working even closer with you all in the Year of the Dragon.