Seventy years ago, a small group of British businessmen and women traveled to China to unlock opportunities between the countries – they became known as the icebreakers. Jack Perry was one of the original Icebreakers. Growing up the son of poor Jewish immigrants in the devastating years before World War II, he was inspired to help China rebuild itself and fight poverty by encouraging international trade.
Stephen Perry grew up watching his father’s relationship with China grow and was inspired to join him in the 1970s when China was almost entirely an agricultural economy. Stephen was part of a deal that sold the first commodities from America to China; he witnessed ‘opening up’ and China’s entry into the World Trade Organisation. Stephen was also keen to improve cultural relations, bringing British football teams and musicals to China and encouraging musicals such as The Red Lantern to travel to the UK.
We also hear from Rana Mitter, a historian specializing in the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, on the incredible devastation wrought on China in the years preceding Jack Perry’s arrival; and we hear from Professor Liu Baocheng from the Beijing University of International Business and Economics, who grew up in China – working with Jack and Stephen Perry in international trade in the 1980s.
Presenter: Louise Greenwood
Series Producer: Elizabeth Mearns
Producers: Elizabeth Mearns, Louise Greenwood
Sound Editor: Terry Wilson
Bridge Builders Series Editor: Guo Chun