Laurel Zhang, head of China & Asia team, has had an eventful month meeting Home Secretary Amber Rudd, BBC journalist Andrew Marr and, last but not least, Piers Morgan. The invitations to a number of high profile events and the introductions follow Laurel’s tireless efforts to act as a bridge between China and the UK as part of Sherrards China and South East Asia team.
“Andrew Marr is very interested in how Brexit will affect UK relations with China,’ she says. ‘Chinese President Xi Jinping has talked of a golden era of relations between the two countries. I agree, especially if there is a hard Brexit as looks likely. I think Andrew and people in the DIT share the view that it would be a good opportunity to strengthen UK-China relations. Laurel met Andrew having been invited by Knight Frank to attend a breakfast meeting about the World Wealth Report 2018, where he talked about the effects of Brexit. Laurel agreed to facilitate interviews with influential figures in China.
Having advised many Chinese investors, including listed, state-owned, and private companies on inward investment to the UK and assisted UK companies investing in China by setting up partnerships and joint ventures, Laurel and Sherrards’ corporate/commercial team are in a rare position to help companies in both countries do business together.
Earlier in March, Zhang was invited by Chris Gethin, a director at Cancer Research UK, to attend the Turn the Tables 2018 charity event. There she met Home Secretary Amber Rudd; journalist and TV presenter Piers Morgan; and Labour MP Tom Watson.
‘I talked with Amber about the future of UK policy,’ says Zhang. ‘She is also Minister for Women and Equalities, so we talked about how to promote diversity and encourage women to become professionals and leaders.’
Laurel regularly travels to China. Most recently in November, she attended events in four cities as part of an initiative to promote trade relations.
‘We were invited by the Chinese Government to sit on an M&A panel at the events and deliver a presentation to Chinese corporate investors,’ she says. ‘Many Chinese investors, want to invest in the UK but have very little information about how to do it. So I act as a bridge between the two legal systems to make it work for them.
‘We sat alongside government officials from the UK, and other major EU countries and talked to entrepreneurs in China looking to expand their businesses overseas. Sherrards has a close relationship with the UK government, so I also helped arrange for representatives of the British Embassy and the Department for International Trade (DIT) to attend and talk at the events.’
Each event had up to 400 attendees including entrepreneurs, government officials and media. Zhang says other regions in China now want to hold similar initiatives and she is looking forward to returning to China in April to participate.