My life from dog to pig in China. 13 years as an entrepreneur in the Middle Kingdom comes to an end.

07.02.20 02:16 PM By Jim James

Over a period of 12 years in China I dedicated myself to the promotion of British business and the wellbeing of the British community in China. I did this by a combination of events which he created for the community, his own businesses, and his involvement in UK Government to China dialogue particularly in the field of automotive trade.

The introduction of the British Business Awards to China created a focal point for the community to celebrate ‘Innovation, Enterprise and Endeavour.’ Jim started this himself in late 2007 and carried it through to launch in Nov 2008 without assistance from the Chamber of Commerce, although in his capacity as a member of the Executive Committee. He played a role on the Awards Committee in 2014 and then chaired the Awards again in 2018. Jim used his own offices to engage the British foreign office, businesses and Chinese Government and media to take part. He enlisted Sir William Ehrman, Ambassador at that time, to become the Patron of the Awards and then gained the support of the British Council, China Britain Business Council, Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry and 48 Group Club. The Awards were attended by The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, the Director General of the Ministry of Commerce, and 400 guests including the media. The BBA contributed nearly GBP100,000 in profits to the Chamber of Commerce; making it the most significant fund raising event of the year. 

Fast forward to 2018, with Patron HMA Dame Barbara Woodward DCMG OBE, as Vice Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Awards Jim led the Chamber team to organise the (a website built and still hosted by  one of Jim’s invested companies). Sponsors included KPMG, the British Council, Geely, Manchester University, GSK, BP and Harrow Schools. Winners included Rolls Royce, Teledyne, University of Edinburgh, Nom Nom, Beijing Construction Engineering Group, Atkins, and Spiraxsarco Engineering (China) Ltd. Voting was conducted by a process devised by Jim which included a 40/30/30 split between a judging panel, online voting, and an Ambassadors panel to ensure transparency, engagement and credibility. National Chinese and British press covered the awards and the winners all benefitted both within China and in the UK from the recognition of their success. The Awards once again made a significant financial contribution to the wellbeing of the Chamber of Commerce in China with over GBP50,000 in profits. The Awards have now become a centre piece in the Chamber events calendar, and has spawned derivations such as the CSR Award and the Alumni of the Year Award. Jim identified and filled the need for a celebration of British success in China, and started a trend in the process.

In his capacity as an entrepreneur, Jim was an ardent supporter and importer of British brands in China. In 2013 HM Ambassador to China Sebastian Wood CMG opened the first Morgan Motor Company showroom in China. Jim purchased a Morgan in 2011 and imported it to China for his personal use under his company EASTWEST Public Relations. Due to the interest received he approached the Factory and won approval to be the authorised importer. Over the period 2013-2019 Jim promoted the Morgan brand, lent the vehicle to official British Embassy events e.g. the Queens birthday parties, and positioned Morgan in the media and at trade shows to demonstrate the great British qualities of craftsmanship and style. As an entrepreneur he purchased 65 cars from the British Factory, to the value of GBP2.5m, and gave jobs to Chinese alumni of British Universities on their return to China. Jim established the national network for Morgan Cars in China - with dealerships in Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing, with over 250,000 unique visitors to their website which also promoted tours to the UK in partnership with Hello Britain and merchandise from other British vendors e.g. Motolita.

During 2015 Jim was approached by Lotus Cars UK to become an interim CEO, and during this time he established the British Motorsport Festival. The BMF was a platform for UK brands as an alternative to expensive and static trade shows, and Jim hosted the BMF in Beijing in 2015, 2016 and 2018 with the support Department for International Trade. The events were funded and managed by Jim and were attended by British car brands including Aston Martin, JLR, McLaren, Lotus, Morgan, MINI and associated British brands for food, drink and apparel.  In the final year Jim set up a partnership with ACE Cafe, a Chinese company with the franchise to the London ACE Cafe venue. 

In 2016 Jim created and produced the British Motorsport Conference, with funding applied for and received from the DIT which met venue costs but no other costs. Jim invited speakers from the UK including Silverstone, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), and ProDrive, and from China including Golden Port Race Track Enterprise, China Automobile and Motorsport Federation (CAMF), and media partners including the HURUN report. The 1 day conference had over 100 attendees which led to the promotion of British venues and technologies, and the live streaming of the event had over 1,000,000 views. 

As Vice Chairman of the British Chamber during two terms of 2017-18 & 2018-2019 with his direct involvement in the automotive industry, Jim played a direct role in preparation of materials for the DIT to engage with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). In the Business Environment Market Access report (BEMA) submitted to DIT in June 2018 Jim James is listed as author. For the full reports to follow in late 2018 and 2019 Jim called upon his industry connections to engage the homologation departments of Aston Martin, Lotus, McLaren, and JLR hosting round table discussions, reviewing the editorial arising from those, and briefing DIT representatives on issues facing British companies with the introduction of new emission standards to China.  The final Position Papers were submitted by the Chamber to the DIT covering a number of sectors including Automotive, Legal, Accounting, Built Environment and Education.  Available here

During this time Jim was also advocating British businesses and supporting British education. In 2017 he became the importer for WAKE Drinks to China using the flag branded drink to promote British sports culture at events including the International Food & Drink expo in Shanghai on the CBBC pavillion, and using social media. A case study is here Jim’s agency, EASTWEST Public Relations, was working with British universities and brands to gain exposure and to gain sales and students. British brands including AGA,  Optalysys GKN, and Universities including York, Kent and Queens University Belfast have continued to use the services of EASTWEST in China by a team led by Jim James.  From 2015-2017 Jim was recognised by the British Council as a Leading Light and by the Chinese Marketing Magazine an ‘International ICON.’

As part of the Morgan Cars in China business, Jim made an effort to engage with the community through the brand. He partnered with the Wheels Plus Wings charity, donating a wheel chair to a young Chinese lad named Bo, and created an event for disadvantaged children to feel, touch and ride in a Morgan 3 Wheeler. He connected the Roundabout Charity with technology companies, and was the founding President in 2007 of the Beijing Chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization ( which is still in operation; now led by another Englishman. In 2008 Jim invested in a web company operated by an Englishman in China, and used that agency to build the original site for the, which it is still doing 10 years later with his sponsorship.

Letter of Recognition from the Duke of York for the British Business Awards 2008 to attach.

Media coverage: .

Morgan as a British brand going to China

Morgan showroom to sell retro British cars with eye on luxury market

Morgan opens first car showroom in China

Asia Briefing: The car’s the star as newly-rich Chinese flaunt wealth


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Rob Young - Today Show. BBC. To link to audio file.

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Back in the UK, I have remained involved in the China Britain relationship. Oct 17th taking part in the capacity as ex officio board member of the British Chamber of Commerce at the British Chambers of Commerce International Trade Summit. He is also an Executive Committee member of the Hainan International Chamber of Commerce, with a remit to build UK - Hainan trade relations. 

Jim James

Founder UnNoticed Ventures Ltd