Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, honoured as one of ten foreigners who have supported and helped China’s reform and opening up over the past 40 years


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As some of you may have already seen in the Chinese media, Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, was awarded the China Reform Friendship Medal by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang at the high-profile ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 18th.

The ten recipients of the China Reform Friendship Medal are foreigners who Beijing regards as having played a key role in helping China open up to the rest of the world both economically and in other fields.


Stephen Perry is one of the select group of people who have played a significant role in breaking the ice in the trade relations and other fields between China and the UK, as well as other countries, most notably the USA. In turn, he has built on the lifetime work of his father, Jack Perry, who led the famed Icebreaker Mission back in 1953.


After receiving his medal, Stephen commented:

“The transformation of China since its opening up 40 years ago is a miracle and, whilst foreigners have played their part, it is, above all, a tribute to the hard work of hundreds of millions of Chinese people.

“As China continued to grow and develop, we had to find the explanations for many eager people, who wanted to know how to work with China. We saw the transformation of agriculture, followed by the modernisation of manufacturing, and the creation of large export markets. The development of service industries has also been very important. However, at its core has been the removal of poverty for so many, which is the first human right.

“My company, the London Export Corporation, and the 48 Group will continue to study and apply what we learn, and that is how we can best help Western companies and governments to understand and cooperate with China for mutual benefit.

“I am very proud to receive the award, but I do so on behalf of my colleagues and our members and above all for my father Jack and all the other icebreaking pioneers, right back to the early 1950s. Good comes from good families.”


The other recipients were:

  • Klaus Schwab – Founder of the World Economic Forum (Davos), an “international activist who promoted China’s economic exchange and cooperation with the outside world”
  • Juan Antonio Samaranch – the former president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), for helping realise the Beijing Olympics
  • Lee Kuan Yew – Singapore’s late founding Prime Minister, who promoted Singapore’s participation in China’s reform and opening up
  • Masayoshi Ohira, former Japanese Prime Minister, who promoted the normalisation of ties between Japan and China
  • Konosuke Matsushita, Founder of Panasonic, one of the first well-known international companies to enter the Chinese market after the start of reform and opening up
  • Alain Mérieux, French medical entrepreneur, who helped pioneer Chinese medical cooperation with the world
  • Werner Gerich, the first ‘foreign factory director’ during China’s reform and opening up
  • Maurice R. Greenberg, former chairman of American International Group (AIG), who promoted Sino-foreign economic cooperation
  • Robert Kuhn, Chairman of the Kuhn Foundation and an expert on China, who has devoted himself to introducing a comprehensive and realistic China to the world


Earlier, on October 16th, President Xi received Stephen Perry at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and hailed the “ice-breaking trip” made by Stephen’s father and other far-sighted members of the British business community.


Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Stephen Perry, chairman of Britain’s 48 Group Club, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 16, 2018. /Xinhua Photo

“I’m very glad to see that the spirit of the ‘ice-breaking trip’ is being carried forward from generation to generation,” Xi said, referring to the 48 Group Club’s continuous enthusiasm for cultivating the friendship between the two countries.

He said the China-UK friendship is now deeply rooted in the peoples of the two countries and it has become a consensus shared by the two governments and peoples to develop the ‘Golden Era’ of bilateral ties.


The Directors of the 48 Group Club also take this opportunity to thank everyone of you, our members, supporters and friends, for your great support over the years and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

We look forward to continue working closely with you to promote even better cooperation and friendship between the UK and China.

Season’s Greetings!


The 48 Group Club


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