MPs and cadres remember British trade pioneer Perry

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 December, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 December, 1997, 12:00am

A MEMORIAL service has been held for the man who pioneered British trade with China's fledgling communist state and defied an embargo imposed by Washington for more than 20 years.

Jack Perry led a business mission to China in 1953, establishing the 48 Group to promote bilateral trade.

Perry made 76 visits to China and developed close ties with its leaders.

The service was held in the Beijing Hotel on Friday, a year after Perry's death, aged 81.

More than 250 people, including several ministers, high trade officials and former ambassadors to London attended the ceremony - a sign of respect rare for a foreigner not a resident of China.

Speakers heaped praise on Perry as a man who broke the embargo imposed by US Secretary of State Foster Dulles after 1949.

He continued to trade through good times and bad and was an invaluable political adviser to Chinese ambassadors in Britain.

Among the foreign speakers were Brian Smith, chairman of Cable and Wireless and Ted Sorensen, a former aide to President John F. Kennedy.

Mr Sorensen said Perry helped change US opinion in the late 1960s and prepare for Richard Nixon's 1972 visit.

After the service and dinner, guests - including four British members of Parliament and senior Chinese officials - took part in a bridge tournament. Perry was a keen player.

A football referee, Perry arranged for the first visit to China by a British team, West Bromwich Albion, in 1978.

He also organised the first ever visit to the mainland by a British bridge team.

In 1986, he was named visiting professor at Beijing's University of International Business and Economics, where he lectured.