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Region Event

IoD London: South Asia and Belt Road Initiative

19 Oct 2020
Online webinar, Online
The BRI initiative is the most exciting initiative for International Trade currently and will be for many years to come, as the trading routes across Asia from China to the West and sea routes from China to the west are developed and opened up with road and rail across many countries.

Each panellist will speak on how BRI is affecting their country and the extent it is already engaging with China on BRI or intends to do so in the future. The CPEC project in Pakistan will be of great interest in terms of the huge impact of transportation of goods and connections between the Indian Ocean and central Asia. For the UK there are many opportunities for this involved with international trade and the provision of infrastructure, financial, construction and legal and other professional services.

The IoD City South Asia group was only set up in 2019 so for many this will be the first time to hear about trade, investment and business issues in the South Asia region.


This webinar is being run in partnership with The 48 Group Club.

Key details

Date & time: 19 Oct 2020 17:00 - 18:30
Location: Online webinar, Online
CPD Hours:

Prices from

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0.00 GBP + VAT - Non-Members

Event manager:
Mr Alan Fitzwater
Contact phone:
Contact email:


Keith Bennett

Keith Bennett is the Deputy Chairman of The 48 Group Club.

He studied History and Politics, focused on modern China, at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), graduating in 1979. Upon graduation he worked as the Publications Officer of the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU) and first visited China as a member of a SACU delegation in April-May 1981. After 1981, he began a career in journalism and became the Political Editor of the weekly newspapers Asian Times, Caribbean Times and African Times, along with the company's (Hansib Publications) book titles. He also worked as Editor of the English language section of the Daily Awaz International‎, a bilingual (Urdu/English) newspaper that was aimed at the Pakistani diaspora.

He subsequently worked in Parliament as Senior Policy Adviser to a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) and then minister in the government of Tony Blair elected in 1997.

Following this, he has been a self-employed Consultant working primarily in the private sector to provide political, economic, government and public affairs expertise and advice ‎with regard to China/UK business relations as well as for Chinese (including Hong Kong) companies operating or seeking to operate in third markets as diverse as DPR Korea, Pakistan, Armenia, South Sudan and various Caribbean countries. 

He has been actively involved with The 48 Group Club for more than 20 years and has visited China more than 200 times between 1981-2017. (He took a 2-year sabbatical, 2018-2020, from most of his responsibilities to care full-time for his mother after she suffered a stroke.) He is currently working closely with Mr Stephen Perry on the global ramifications and opportunities of China's development, most particularly the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and to understand Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.

Minister Ma Hui

Mr MA Hui is a Minister of the People's Republic of China in the United Kingdom since February 2017.

From 2011- 2017 he was the Director General, Bureau for North American, Oceanian, UK & Nordic Affairs International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC).Prior to that from 2002 to 2011 he was the Division Chief for North American Affairs and Deputy-Director General of IDCPC.

Minister Ma has served as the First Secretary (political), in the Chinese Embassy in London ( 1999 - 2001) , as Deputy Governor of Binxian County, Shaanxi Province in China and from 1990 to 1998 he was the Desk Officer, Deputy Division Chief for South Asian Affairs, 1st Asian Affairs Bureau, IDCPC.

A graduate of Beijing International Studies University he is also an MSc Public Policy postgraduate of University College London.

Professor Rana Mitter OBE FBA

Rana Mitter OBE FBA is the Director of the University China Centre, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, and a Fellow of St Cross College at the University of Oxford. He is the author of several books, including China’s War with Japan: The Struggle for Survival, 1937-1945 (Penguin, 2013), which won the 2014 RUSI/Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature, and was named a Book of the Year in the Financial Times and Economist. His latest book is China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism (Harvard, 2020). He has commented regularly on China in media and forums around the world, including at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

His recent documentary on contemporary Chinese politics "Meanwhile in Beijing" is available on BBC Sounds.  He is co-author, with Sophia Gaston, of the report “Conceptualizing a  UK-China Engagement Strategy” (British Foreign Policy Group, 2020).

Shafiq Shahzab

Shafiq Shazad is the Trade & Investment Minister at the Pakistan High Commission in London. He took up this posting in August 2018.

Previously he was the Director of the Pakistan Institute of Trade and Islamabad. He holds a Masters in International Economics and Development from Crawford School, Australia National University in Canberra, He has also studied at the University of Bonn and at the German Development.

Dr Lakmini Mendis

Dr Lakmini Mendis is the Minister ( Commercial ) at the Sri Lankan High Commission in London.

She was previously Head of research & Development and the Deputy Director at the Department of commerce in Sri Lanka. and is a trade expert in multilateral, bilateral and regional trade agreements. From 2011-2013 she was a Minister Counsellor/Charge d'Affairs at the Sri Lankan mission at the UN and WTO. She was the First Secretary at the Sri  Lankan High Commission in London from 2005 to 2009.
She was the Second Secretary in the Sri Lankan High Commission in Malaysia from 2003 to 2005.

Dr Mendis holds a PhD from the University of Adelaide , an MBA from the Postgraduate Institute of Management ( PIM) and a BSc in Business Administration from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

Aftab Siddiqui

Aftab Siddiqui is an experienced investment professional and has deep understanding of institutional and cross border infrastructure investments. He has worked at senior positions in the UK with the world’s largest investment management firms including Fidelity, BlackRock and Prudential. He has also established the first UK based Asian TV Channel ARY in the UK. Aftab writes regularly as an independent senior analyst on Asia, his articles are published in the UK, Pakistan and Chinese media. He covers geo-economics and politics, issues and challenges faced by international investment firms, policies and concerns of multilateral agencies operating in Asia. He has also worked as an adviser to the APPG on Belt & Road Initiative  (BRI) and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  He regularly delivers seminars to the members of Parliament at the Westminster and business groups to help develop a positive outlook for these projects. 

Stephen Perry

Stephen Perry is the Chairman of the 48 Group Club. He graduated in law from UCL, gaining a high pass in Jurisprudence. He went back to work in the original Icebreaker firm London Export Corporation. LEC are the original Icebreakers from 1952. Stephen was part of the LEC team that broke the USA boycott on trade with China by doing major sales from the USA to China in April 1972. American suppliers to China were nervous of disputes with China. Stephen convinced them to trust him that problems could be solved through discussion.

From that time on, Stephen rose to be Group Managing Director after 2 years. He became responsible for all disputes with China in a wide range of goods. For the next 30 years Stephen managed resolution of many disputes through, mediation, arbitration and courts.

BRI has changed the world, Stephen has frequently written, as infrastructure has become green and transnational. It is a new chapter in the development of the global economy. As the new growth is in BRI so new centres of despite resolution will grow, and the underlying BRI Law has yet to be written. In visiting Beijing in 2016 with Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice, talks were held about the Rule of Law and the underlying law to be used. The 48 Group suggested Chinese law could be used as there is not a lot of Chinese law, and it could be developed with BRI in mind.

Stephen concluded the Icebreaking Filter Joint- Venture for Celanese with STMA in 1987 and it went in operation in 1989. It has since been expanded many times. It has a unique Board which is 50/50 regardless of the equity held, and has no casting vote. Stephen explained the purpose was to ensure a deadlock to be resolved by more talking if a deadlock was experienced. This was the way the company went forward and all problems were resolved by calm discussion.

Stephen has had a very wide experience, unique, of dispute resolution with China. It is not a system that the West feels comfortable with but it is low cost and often avoids winner and loser mentality.



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