PUBLIC SECTOR: British Council to boost UK image in China

The British Council is to undertake a concerted promotional effort to improve and modernise perceptions of the UK in China.

The high-profile campaign, to commence later this year, is aimed at facilitating stronger business and cultural links between the two countries ahead of the change of leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in China next year.

The Council is looking to recruit a figurehead campaign director for the project throughout 2003, who will be responsible for establishing and heading a campaign steering group.

The campaign will be jointly managed by the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is expected that senior ministers from both the Chinese and British governments will take part in the campaign

The British Council director for East Asia Richard Walker said that the move was aimed at updating the UK's image in the territory: 'Some Chinese people have an outdated view of the UK.'

The Council will look to promote closer ties, for example in education.

Currently 16,000 Chinese nationals study in the UK.

Walker said that part of the efforts to change the perception of the UK in China would include the creation of a new UK brand, which is currently being finalised.

He added that the campaign would target 16 to 30-year-olds, and that it would embrace government departments, NGOs such as the British Council and the private sector.

The campaign director will be responsible for ensuring that projects receive maximum exposure in the media, promoting closer links at top governmental and corporate levels.

The British Council operates offices in China as the cultural and education arm of the British Embassies.

Last year a UK-China Law conference took place, as well as the loan of sculptures to China as part of a cultural exchange.

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