|Description||In 1972 the Great Britain - China Committee was established to facilitate cultural and similar exchanges 'in the light of the improvement in relations between our two countries, in particular exemplified by the agreement to exchange Ambassadors'. Thompson accepted an invitation to chair the Committee which included Mr Malcolm Macdonald, Lord Trevelyan, Sir John Keswick, representatives of the political parties, the Royal Society and the British Academy. Initially the British Council agreed to provide and house the Secretariat. The Committee's first Secretary was the Director of the Council's East Europe Department, I H Williams who was succeeded towards the end of 1972 by J F H Villiers. Successes of the Committee included an exhibition of Chinese art treasures at the Royal Academy and a visit of Shanghai acrobats, both in 1973. However, Chinese relations with the international football authorities frustrated early efforts to send a British football team to China.|
In 1974 the Committee was transformed in the Great Britain - China Centre open to public membership. It had its own premises in Queen Anne's Gate, and a Director to manage its day-to-day affairs. The first Director was J F Ford who was succeeded in 1978 by Miss Elizabeth Wright. The Centre was controlled by an Executive Committee chaired (until 1980) by Thompson. Its members included Members of Parliament and representatives of organizations interested in Chinese affairs. Thompson visited China in 1974 as head of a Royal Society delegation and in 1979 with a Great Britain-China Centre delegation.
The material presented here in a chronological sequence is principally Thompson's correspondence with the Secretaries of the Committee and Directors of the Centre, Chinese officials, officers of other interested bodies such as the British Council, Football Association, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Royal Society, and others. There are also committee papers, progress reports newsletters.
Includes material relating to visits by a Chinese XI to Britain in 1979 and Norwich City FC to China in 1980. Also includes material relating to a possible visit to China by a Shrewsbury School football team.