It is only in the past few years that Britain has realised the importance of China's fast-growing economy. But with business opportunities so abundant it is difficult to know where to start and strong commitment is what is needed for success. By Jonathan Reuvid By Jonathan Reuvid
'Trade follows the flag' it used to be said. Before the high summer of Empire, though, trade was often way out in front. You only have to think of India or West Africa or Singapore or Hong Kong. When the flag was raised over Hong Kong 152 years ago, it was after Britain had intervened to protect her commerce. British opium traders had by then been active on the China coast for a decade or more. These days opium is far from acceptable as a commodity, but trade with China is vastly greater, more diverse and potentially more rewarding (for some) than it has ever been. Yet having led the way in opening the country to foreign trade, the British have been strangely indifferent to the opportunities on offer in the second half of the 20th century.