Chevening Alumni Ren Wenxia (2008/2009, bottom row, centre) and Zhang Yonhong (2007/2008, middle row, second from left) were among the nine finalists for China at the inaugural Education UK Alumni Awards.

Ren Wenxia was selected as a finalist for the Professional Achievement Award. This award is aimed at professionals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their industry and integrity in their career. Wenxia is Director of the Bureau for International Cooperation at the Harbin Economic and Technological Development Zone in China. In addition to attracting significant foreign investment to the Zone from several Fortune 500 companies, she has also led international partnerships in culture and tourism.

Speaking of her time studying International Business and Management at the University of Manchester, Wenxia said that studying in the UK gave her the knowledge and skills to promote economic cooperation between Chinese and multinational organisations. She has since worked with the China Britain Business Council to create the Friendship Agreement between Sunderland and Harbin, and has helped develop cultural and educational links between the two cities.

Zhang Yonghong is a Senior Judge and Deputy Director for Enforcement Supervision at Shanghai High Court. He was one of the three finalists in the Social Impact Award category, which is aimed at alumni who have made an exceptional contribution to positive social change and improving the lives of others. 

Zhang Yonghong completed a Master’s in International Business Law in 2008 at the University of Liverpool. During his Master’s, he conducted a comparative study on the enforcement of judgment between the UK and Chinese legal systems, which culminated in ‘English Enforcement Law’, the first Chinese book to outline the UK system to Chinese practitioners. He has spoken of how studying in the UK widened his horizon and gave him the resource to compare two legal systems, which helps him find ways to balance the competing demands involved in the decision making process of an enforcement case.

His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, was guest of honour at the awards ceremony. He thanked the finalists for the important contribution they were making to the strengthening of ties between the UK and China.

Carma Elliot, CMG OBE, Minister (Culture and Education), Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Beijing, and Director, British Council China, closed the event, saying: ‘We had the opportunity to celebrate some remarkable people at the Education UK Alumni Awards, people who have taken their UK education as a starting point to excel in many different and diverse fields of endeavour, shaping the world and sharing their passion with those around them.

‘Today’s event demonstrates the value of education in building a foundation of trust and mutual understanding between the UK and China, and the importance of alumni in inspiring the next generation of leaders to use their skills and knowledge, gained through a UK education, to address some of the global issues and challenges we face in this modern age.’

400 Chinese candidates were put forward for the awards, with Wenxia and Yonghong being among the nine nominated finalists for the three available awards. The Professional Achievement Award was eventually won by Dr Liu Qianwen, Country Manager – China at Drewry Shipping Consultants. The Social Impact Award was won by Wang Weikang, a senior manager for the Membership and Organisation Cooperation Department of the China Beijing Environment Exchange (CBEEX).

The Education UK Alumni Awards 2016 will opening on 24 August 2015.