Last Word

Charting a new course

Updated: 2011-07-01 10:53

By David Bartram (China Daily European Weekly)

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Charting a new course
Mark Hendrick says the UK should catch up in its relations with China. David Bartram / for China Daily 

British MP Mark Hendrick says Parliamentary group will help consolidate ties with China

After spending 11 years in Westminster, home of the British parliament, Mark Hendrick knows more than any one the importance of forging strong relationships in the political hemisphere.

But the Member of Parliament for Preston, a small working-class city in the north of England, does a fine balancing act as he juggles with the job of representing his constituents and forging new linkages in his other capacity as the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary China Group.

"The main aim of the group is to build relations with our counterparts in the National People's Congress in Beijing," Hendrick says. "We look at the issues affecting China and the UK, both at a political level and also at the business level."

All party parliamentary groups (APPGs) provide parliamentarians with the opportunity to discuss relevant issues on non-partisan grounds, and invite experts from outside of the government to contribute to the debate. Alongside a host of country-based groups are issue-led ones looking at everything from the serious - education, drug use - to the somewhat more frivolous - jazz appreciation and cricket.

"The group was started about 13 years ago, but since then we've extended our activities considerably. Of course China's importance has risen rapidly over the past few years. Now we are working with a much more up-to-date, fertile public who are very much interested in what will be - in a decade or two's time - the most powerful nation on Earth economically and possibly politically and militarily as well."

Hendrick's own background puts him in a unique position to help contribute to the China-UK relationship. Like many of China's political leaders, but somewhat of an exception in the UK, Hendrick was trained as an engineer. As a representative of a small city some way from London, he also appreciates the need for the relationship to graduate beyond top-tier negotiations.

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