Shared Futures

Shared
Futures

Shared Futures is a series of new interviews that explore the common ground and shared interests that link China and the UK.

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Shared Futures is a series of exclusive interviews with key stakeholders that explore the common ground and shared interests that connect China and the UK.

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Through interviews with key stakeholders in business, education, sports and the arts, Shared Futures shows how diverse collaboration with China makes a profound contribution to the UK's economic and cultural life, and aims to ensure that informed views from those active in shaping the bilateral relationship are clearly heard.

SHARED FUTURES is created by Signal8 Digital and Manchester China Forum, Greater Manchester’s special-purpose vehicle for China engagement, launched in 2013 by former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

Shared Futures is a series of new interviews co-produced by Manchester China Forum and Signal8 Digital that aims to explore the common ground and shared interests that link China and the UK's North West region and to ensure that informed views from those active in shaping the bilateral relationship are clearly heard.

Through interviews with key stakeholders in business, education, sports and the arts, Shared Futures shows how diverse collaboration with China makes a profound contribution to the UK's economic and cultural life while also boosting its soft power reach.

Shared Futures is divided into two groups of interviews. The first spotlights the education sector, while the second aims to highlight a broader range of topics under the general topic "Living". The series is introduced by Rhys Whalley, Executive Director of Manchester China Forum.

The coming decade will see China play an ever greater role on the world stage. For the UK this will pose some big challenges. Yet to paint the coming era as one soley of confrontation overlooks opportunities where the interests of both countries align. The fight to contain climate change, improve global healthcare and alleviate poverty are among the greatest and most urgent of these, but it is also in business, technology, sport and the arts, among others, where there lies potential for productive collaboration. Delivering on this will sometimes require a delicate balancing act. More important, it will demand a serious committment to greater knowledge and understanding, as much as a robust defence of core values.

Shared Futures is created by Signal8 Digital and Manchester China Forum, Greater Manchester’s award-winning special purpose vehicle for China engagement, launched in 2013 by former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

Introduction

Introduction

Rhys Whalley
Executive Director, Manchester China Forum


For almost a decade, Manchester China Forum has been a flag carrier for the North West’s relationship with China. Yet as the geopolitical weather has changed, so exchange with the world’s second superpower has come under its greatest strain in almost 40 years. In his introduction to this series, the Forum’s Executive Director, Rhys Whalley, describes what the future of the relationship could look like, and why informed engagement with China continues to be vital, not only for the region, but also the idea of Global Britain. Read more

Rhys Whalley
Executive Director, Manchester China Forum


For almost a decade Manchester China Forum has been a flag carrier for the North West’s relationship with China. In his introduction to this series, the Forum’s Executive Director, Rhys Whalley, describes what the future of the relationship could look like.
Read more...

Learning

Chilly relations between China and the UK have not cooled enthusiasm for a British education. On the one hand this increased contact helps to boost Britain’s soft power reach yet as fewer UK students study Chinese at university, the flip side is a growing asymmetry of understanding.

Matt Burney
China Director, British Council


The British Council’s most recent soft power report shows that the UK ranks as the G20’s most attractive country. Matt Burney, the British Council’s China Director says this is expressed in a bilateral relationship with China of greater range, depth and complexity than ever before.
Read more

Fang Zhang
BBC Young Musician 2020


In May 2021 Fang Zhang was crowned winner of the BBC Young Musician 2020. Coming to the UK presented numerous unique challenges. Yet as he explains, it was the learning environment he found at Chatham's School of Music that was essential to his growth as a musician.
Read more

Dame Nancy Rothwell
President, University of Manchester


China is a strategically significant international market for most major UK Universities and the University of Manchester is no exception. As host to one of Europe’s largest populations of overseas Chinese students, it is not only a source of significant economic benefit to the city and region but also a vital hub for cultural exchange that helps to shape how the next generation of Chinese leaders experience the UK. In this interview, President of the University of Manchester, Dame Nancy Rothwell, talks about the intricacies of this relationship.
Read more

Manchester Grammar School
Year 13, Chinese-language Students


China is a strategically significant international market for most major UK Universities and the University of Manchester is no exception. As host to one of Europe’s largest populations of overseas Chinese students, it is not only a source of significant economic benefit to the city and region but also a vital hub for cultural exchange that helps to shape how the next generation of Chinese leaders experience the UK. In this interview, President of the University of Manchester, Dame Nancy Rothwell, talks about the intricacies of this relationship.
Read more

Living

The second group of interviews highlights a sample of organisations at the leading edge of the North West’s engagement with China. Their experiences offer a valuable snapshot of the depth and complexity of current collaborations. They show how these relationships have evolved, the sorts of benefits they have delivered, and the kind of potential that exists for the future.

Lord Jim O'Neill
Vice-chair, Northern Powerhouse


Jim O’Neill saw sooner than most the part that China would play in driving world growth. Moreover, in coining the acronym “BRIC” he provided useful shorthand for a world after western hegemony. Today, he worries that post-Brexit Britain may not be prepared for the transformation these changes demand.
Read more

Esme Ward
Director, Manchester Museum


The launch in February 2023 of the Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery at Manchester Museum will be the institution's first space dedicated to Chinese arts and culture. Museum director, Esme Ward, says they tell a unique series of stories about intersecting lives between Britain and China.
Read more

Learning

Chilly relations between China and the UK have not cooled enthusiasm for a British education. More overseas Chinese applied to study in the UK this year than ever before – more even than from the EU. On the one hand this helps to boost Britain’s soft power reach, yet as fewer UK students study Chinese at university, the flip side is a growing asymmetry of understanding.

The following interviews explore the character of the UK’s relationship with China as lensed by its education sector – the creation of a new China strategy and the potential of digital, to the lived experience of overseas Chinese students arriving in the UK for the first time. Moreover, in a fresh generation of young British Chinese speakers is the chance to build new cultural bridges.

Matt Burney
China Director, British Council


The British Council’s most recent soft power report shows that the UK ranks as the G20’s most attractive country. Matt Burney, the British Council’s China Director says this is expressed in a bilateral relationship with China of greater range, depth and complexity than ever before. It is something borne out by the continuing popularity of a British education. At a time of acute international uncertainty this presents a valuable opportunity. Maintaining this edge in the post-Covid era, however, will require commitment and a concerted effort to raise China literacy in the UK.
Read more

Fang Zhang
BBC Young Musician 2020


In May 2021 Fang Zhang was crowned winner of the BBC Young Musician 2020, the final of the biennial competition having been delayed by a year because of the pandemic. Only the second percussionist to win the overall competition, Zhang, 17, joined Chatham School of Music in September 2018, having previously won prestigious competitions in Japan and New York. Coming to the UK presented numerous unique challenges. Yet as he explains, it was the learning environment he found there that was essential to his growth as a musician.
Read more

Dame Nancy Rothwell
President, University of Manchester


China is a strategically significant international market for most major UK Universities and the University of Manchester is no exception. As host to one of Europe’s largest populations of overseas Chinese students, it is not only a source of significant economic benefit to the city and region but also a vital hub for cultural exchange. In so doing it helps to shape how the next generation of Chinese leaders experience the UK. In this interview, President of the University of Manchester, Dame Nancy Rothwell, talks about the intricacies of this relationship.
Read more

Manchester Grammar School
Year 13, Chinese-language students


Developing a wider pool of Mandarin speakers is seen as being of vital strategic importance for the UK’s evolving relationship with China. Yet it is not only the nation's global rise that makes Mandarin an attractive subject. For many students it offers a challenging and rewarding complement to learning a European language. A group of Year 13 students at Manchester Grammar School share their experiences of studying Mandarin Chinese, including what inspired them to take it up, what are its challenges and what advantages they believe it could yield.
Read more

Living

Building a vibrant, multi-layered relationship with China is essential for the UK in a world beyond Covid. The North West region already has much to build on. The past half decade or so since the introduction of a direct air route between Manchester and Beijing has seen a dramatic increase in links across a range of industries, from investment and technology to arts and culture. Preserving and developing these links will require informed dialogue and a commitment to building China literacy.

The second group of interviews highlights a sample of organisations at the leading edge of the North West’s engagement with China. Their experiences offer a valuable snapshot of the depth and complexity of current collaborations. They show how these relationships have evolved, the sorts of benefits they have delivered, and the kind of potential that exists for the future. Most strikingly, they underline the fact that a productive and balanced relationship with China is a long-term, multi-generational task.

Lord Jim O'Neill
Vice-chair, Northern Powerhouse


Jim O’Neill saw sooner than most the part that China would play in driving world growth. Moreover, in coining the acronym “BRIC” he provided useful shorthand for a world after western hegemony. Twenty years on, China’s economy remains on course to match the United States’ by the end of the decade. And even if the other BRIC countries have underperformed, the multipolar world O’Neill envisioned feels just as relevant. Today, he worries that post-Brexit Britain may not be prepared for the transformation these changes demand.
Read more

Esme Ward
Director, Manchester Museum


The launch in February 2023 of the Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery at Manchester Museum will be the institution's first space dedicated to Chinese arts and culture. Most exhibits are drawn from University of Manchester collections around the city and almost all will be on public display for the first time. According to the Museum’s director, Esme Ward, they tell a unique series of stories about intersecting lives and friendships and the kinds of collaboration and reciprocity that takes place between people from Britain and China.
Read more