Theresa May was in China for a diplomatic visit last week. This trip showed that, at the start of 2018, links between the UK and China will continue to be supported. Here we cover three headlines from the trip: trade, education and Chinese culture.

Chinese people often give foreign visitors a nickname, and Theresa May is known affectionately as “Auntie May” in the Chinese press and on social media. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more daily insights into China.

The UK PM looks out from a Chinese pagoda

Trade deals

Theresa May kicked off her diplomatic tour by meeting the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The Premier’s main responsibilities are economic, social and development policies, so Li was an important first contact for May.

A huge trade delegation accompanied the British PM, including some trade giants but also lots of smaller businesses. May and Li agreed $12.75 billion USD (£9.12 billion) worth of trade deals, and both leaders committed to the strengthening of the Golden Age of cooperation between the two countries.

Speaking with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

Big trade deals are great news for British businesses working with China. Both countries are committed to keeping trade access open, and Premier Li said that any change in UK-EU relations would not change the economic agreements between the two countries.

Interested in how you can make as good an impression as “Auntie May” with your Chinese partners? Our Learn China @ Waterloo event includes a session on business etiquette!

Education ties

Education is particularly important in connecting British and Chinese students, who are separated by distance and language. May wants to “enable more children and more young people than ever to share their ideas about our two great nations”, a sentiment we couldn’t agree more with!

“Auntie May” being greeted by Chinese students

The delegation agreed programmes for more teachers from the UK and China swapping places for training and development. The delegation also launched the “English is GREAT” campaign, which encourages English language education throughout China.

Funding for these educational opportunities is over £550m, which will create hundreds of jobs in the UK.

At Dragons we think that a “Chinese is GREAT” campaign would be a great initiative. Help us to show that the UK believes in the importance of learning languages too!

Chinese Culture

A big part of being a foreign guest in China is demonstrating a willingness to learn some aspects of Chinese culture, and Auntie May did not disappoint!

Chinese New Year is coming up on Friday 16th February, and May was went to a traditional paper cutting session to get into the spirit. Her and husband Phillip both cut out the character “fú”, meaning luck. Here is a picture of them holding the character upside down:

“Luck arrives”

Some commentators in Britain thought this was an error which would offend her Chinese hosts. However, as so often in China, this is actually a word game. In Chinese “upside down luck” sounds exactly the same as “luck arrives”, and people paste the character upside down onto doors at Chinese New Year to ask for luck throughout the year!

Some newspapers in the UK mistakenly ran this as a story about Auntie May’s lack of sensitivity to the Chinese culture. Want to ensure you avoid similar mistakes when working with China, contact Dragons for information on our business etiquette classes.