Members of the Lords, including a former governor of Hong Kong and leaders in international business, debated developments in the relationship between the UK and China on Thursday 7 November.
China's importance in finance, international diplomacy and culture and the opportunities for the UK to build on its relationship with China were underscored throughout the debate. Members spoke of Chinese inward investment to the UK and highlighted the development opportunites and challenges for UK exports to China: China is Jaguar Landrover's largest market but the UK remains behind the market share other European countries.
The role of educating UK students, particularly at a young age, about Chinese culture, history and language, was discussed and the relationships between UK and Chinese higher education institutions, with UK universities setting up colleges in China.
Members also argued for Chinese students to have easier access to study in this country and for the impact of immigration rules to be minimised in this respect. They called for more streamlining and simplification of the visa application process for Chinese visitors more broadly in order for the UK to remain competitive in tourism, business and the education sector.
The government noted the economic and societal changes in China and said that no country was strategically more important to the UK, outlining: The increase in students entering for a GCSE in Chinese (up 20% in 2013), steps to simplify the visa process (with forms in Mandarin and more offices around China) and increased Mandarin training for Foreign Office officials as well as more money available for UK SMEs to attend trade fairs in China.