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Family bonds are growing stronger as China-UK relationship endures

By Xin Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-26 07:06

Editor's Note: The Communist Party of China has just concluded its 19th National Congress in Beijing. China Daily asked two foreign experts for their views on developments in China and the country's global leadership.

During Simon Haworth's third trip to China in 2010, the English entrepreneur wrote an email to his father. The reply he received helped Haworth understand that his family has a deep bond with China that stretches back more than five generations - 150 years - far longer than he had realized.

In the 1880s, Haworth's great-great-grandfather started the first silk business in Manchester, England, to trade with companies in Jiangsu province by partnering with Jardine Matheson, a British conglomerate headquartered in Hong Kong.

"That (history) makes it very easy for me to commit to China for the long term," Haworth said. "Also, it makes it easy for China to commit to me."

The deep family bonds helped Haworth decide to open a business in China. In 2013, he started a biotechnology company in Wuhan, Hubei province, that manufactures advanced equipment to diagnose tuberculosis and help treat the illness.

"You don't have as high an incidence of TB as some places," Haworth, CEO of Dynasty Biotechnology, said referring to China. "But you are in the group that has the highest number of new cases in the world. And it's a real issue."

The diagnostic kit his company developed has helped tackle the illness in China, leading the Wuhan government to award the 54-year-old the Yellow Crane Friendship Award in 2015.

In addition to his biotech business, Haworth started the Sino-UK Fund, which provides educational exchange programs for students from China and the United Kingdom. In 2015, Haworth and his wife hosted two Chinese students at their house in Cambridge, England.

"I am involved in a cause in which I am interested, and there are still things to do," he said. "We have had some wonderful moments, such as when two girls were sat in our garden and the Chinese girl gave the English girl some chocolates as a gift.

"The two girls started communicating immediately. They were talking about how to use chopsticks, and then they went back to the English girl's house so she could learn how to use them."

Moments such as this prompted Haworth to continue the program and offer a larger number of exchanges to students from both countries, including his eldest son, George.

During a visit by George to Wuhan in 2012, an employee from Haworth's office was getting married. However, the best man was unable to make the ceremony on time as a result of heavy traffic, so George took his place.

"It's much, much better to engage people for mutual benefits," Haworth said, adding that the relationship between China and the UK should be one of mutual engagement for people from both countries, and should be representative of a shared future.

"The most important thing about China is that it is China's turn (to rise to global prominence)," he said.

Even though his family has been involved with China for more than 150 years, Haworth is looking forward, not back.

"It's all about the future," he said. "It's my task to complete that phase and move my family on to the next 150 years."

Family bonds are growing stronger as China-UK relationship endures

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