Beijing, 3 July 2023 (TDI): President Xi Jinping has sent a heartfelt congratulatory letter to an event honoring the 70th anniversary of the historic “Icebreaking Mission” in China-UK trade.

This significant occasion marks the establishment of one of the first trade links between China and the outside world after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Xi praised the visionary British entrepreneurs, led by Jack Perry, who recognized the potential of China-UK cooperation and established trade relations 70 years ago, overcoming ideological differences.

These pioneers, called “icebreakers,” actively contributed to China’s development and reform, achieving their own growth through mutually beneficial collaboration.

The Chinese President highlighted the significant progress in China-UK trade, surpassing $100 billion, which demonstrates the benefits of this cooperation for both nations and contributes to global peace and development.

Xi acknowledged the challenges in today’s world, including opposition to economic globalization, and expressed hope that innovative individuals from China and Britain would embrace openness and cooperation.

He called for creating new opportunities for mutual benefit, advancing friendship, and cooperation, and establishing an open global economy.

The commemorative event, held in Beijing, was organized by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the 48 Group Club, and the China-Britain Business Council.

Icebreaking Mission

The “Icebreaking Mission” took place in 1954 during the challenging Cold War era. A group of 48 British businessmen embarked on a courageous journey, defying efforts by the United States to restrict visits to China.

Despite the obstacles, they successfully traveled to Hong Kong in just seven days, and with the assistance of an emissary of Premier Zhou Enlai, they reached Beijing four days later. This remarkable trade mission facilitated the exchange of various commodities, including grain, copper, machinery, and medicines.

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Led by the late founder of the London Export Corp, Jack Perry, the 48 businessmen formed a business association known as the 48 Group Club. They proudly embraced the name “icebreakers,” symbolizing their pioneering spirit and commitment to forging connections between nations.

Today, Stephen Perry, son of Jack Perry, has assumed the role of Chairman of both the London Export Corp and the 48 Group Club. As the Sino-British business landscape flourishes, the 48 Group Club continues to play a pivotal role in strengthening relations between China and the United Kingdom.

President Xi Jinping’s congratulatory letter underscores the immense significance of the “Icebreaking Mission” in promoting trade and fostering friendship between China and the UK. It recognizes the tremendous contributions of the 48 Group Club in nurturing and expanding bilateral cooperation.

The commemorative event will bring together esteemed members of the business community, diplomats, and government officials from both countries. It serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of the “Icebreaking Mission” and highlights the remarkable progress achieved in China-UK trade relations over the past seven decades.

As the event unfolds, attendees will have the opportunity to reflect on past achievements and explore future avenues for collaboration. The occasion reinforces the shared commitment of China and the United Kingdom to further enhance trade ties and deepen mutual understanding.