History of CBBC

CBBC’s history dates back to the early 1950s when British companies were among the first to trade with communist China. Our forebears - the 48 Group of Companies and the Sino-British Trade Committee - developed relationships with China’s political leaders and maintained trade links through politically volatile times. This steadfast, pioneering spirit ensured that when China opened up to the outside world in the 1980s, they were best placed to help British businesses capitalise on opportunities in this new, unfamiliar market. Those two organisations merged in the 1990s and eventually became the China-Britain Business Council. As Britain’s economic relations with China take on increasing importance, so too does CBBC’s role in helping British companies in China.



• “Icebreaker Mission” of individuals representing 16 British companies sign a first business arrangement with communist China


• Icebreaker group grows to 48 companies, marking the formation of the 48 Group of Companies
• Creation of semi-official Sino-British Trade Committee (SBTC - later to become the Sino-British Trade Council)
• China sends a charge d’affaires to Britain for the first time, marking an improvement in relations after the end of the Korean War


• Sir John Keswick becomes SBTC president and during his ten years in charge visits China on numerous occasions, continuing to lead business delegations despite difficult political circumstances


• Full diplomatic relations between China and Britain are restored


• SBTC president Sir John Keswick (president from 1963-73) meets Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing
• SBTC organises the Britain Industrial Technology Exhibition in Beijing


• SBTC puts on the British Machine Tools and Scientific Instruments Exhibition in Shanghai

Load More