China Global Impact is an initiative of Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Group Club, and a small group of his close associates. Collectively, they have hundreds of years of experience working and engaging with China and its political and business leaders. They have studied the country deeply – professionally, academically and as their vocation – and have enjoyed access and insights denied to all but a few private individuals in the western world.
Our core aim is to help senior executives and national policy makers understand China’s policies in a historical and future long term context.
The 48 Group emerged from the Icebreaker Mission, whose 60th anniversary is celebrated in 2013. Since this first successful western trade mission to the New China, the group has been committed to genuine understanding and constructive engagement between China and western nations.
The early Icebreakers had a respectful appreciation for China’s long history of science and civilisation. They did not doubt that the country would, in the fullness of time, retake its rightful place in the world. However, they were also aware of the poor and wretched state of China at that time and of its marginal place in the world economy.
Sixty years on, both China and the world have been transformed. China, now the world’s second largest economy, is on track to become its largest. Increasingly, no significant political, economic or environmental issue can be satisfactorily addressed without Chinese input.
At the same time, China remains a country facing immense challenges, both old and new. Its reform process, far from being completed, is about to embark on perhaps its most decisive phase, one that will not only determine the face of twenty-first century China, but also profoundly impact global economy and society.
It is from this perspective that we have identified the pressing need for China’s policies and plans to be understood objectively, not only by policy makers, but equally by the chairmen, chief executives and board members of global companies. While many are attracted by the allure of the Chinese market, the full extent of the business potential generally remains elusive due to a lack of in-depth understanding and perspective. This includes its unique history, sheer scale, and the breadth and depth of its on-going transformation. At a time when China is also emerging from behind its borders to engage with the world in unprecedented ways, such a knowledge deficit has ceased to be an affordable luxury.
To most observers, only the current impacts of China can be seen. Our aim is to make the whole China story visible, its trajectory apparent, as a prerequisite for developing sustainable and profitable business and national and international strategies for the long term.
We are in one of those rare historical moments in which it is possible to be part of this process and can help determine the outcome. The fundamental aim of China Global Impact is to provide corporate leaders and key decision-makers with critical insights that will facilitate profitable and successful engagement with this process. It is a first step towards achieving a broader vision of helping shape a peaceful path for China’s return to global prominence.