Becoming an ambassador to the Court of St James is not without its challenges, as Fu Ying has discovered.
The recently appointed Chinese ambassador may have presented her credentials to the Queen, but has also had a few difficulties finding souvenirs for her friends and relatives.
She said: "I started visiting abroad as an interpreter in the 1980s, and every time I went I went buy things for friends and relatives to bring back.
"But it is becoming more and more difficult to find things to take back home, and sometimes you end up with something that has been made in China."
Speaking at the launch of the Birmingham-China Business Forum, she said how reform in China has brought about great changes.
She said: "Looking back we cannot believe what has happened. Even three decades ago China was a shortage economy. I still remember the difficult days in the 1960s where everything was short.
"If you saw a queue in those days, you had to find a place in it even though you didn't know what people were queuing for.
"My auntie and relatives often bought the wrong things because they were in the queue.
"Now China is a country with sufficient supplies of almost everything. Younger people like my daughter do not know anything about coupons or shortages."
Now China is the world's fourth largest economy, producing most of the world's mobile telephones.
Madame Fu was critical about her country's past, which was now being addressed through reforms.
"During the 1950s the slogan was to carry out the Great Leap Forwards and overtake the UK. The Great Leap Forward did not take us forward, but put us back."
Manufacturing in her country was now booming, along with tourism - with 29 million Chinese travelling overseas on "private purpose" trips every year.
"Ten years ago if somebody wanted a private car, people thought they were either terribly rich or going mad.
"But now there are more than seven million private car sales every year."
China was benefiting from the market-led reforms, while the size of the vast domestic market was yet to be fully tapped, she said.
The population's income level and purchasing power was increasing, with the drive to develop western and north eastern China adding great growth.
Skill levels among the population were also on the increase, with five million people enrolling in Chinese universities every year.
Meanwhile, there had been improved regulation in the labour market with 6,000 illegal factories being closed and improved regulation requirements in small factories.
But the country still faced significant challenges, she added, not least the imbalance in growth between rural and urban areas, and the coast and inland areas.
This gap was widening, with 23 million people below the Chinese poverty line, which, said Madame Fu, was lower than the UN recognised condition of people who live on less than $1 a day.
There was also another 50 million who were in an unstable situation.
There was also the issue of high energy use, with China producing six per cent of the world's GDP but consuming 17 per cent of the globe's energy.
"Clearly this cannot be sustained," said Madame Fu.
There was also a need to continue with the reform of social structures and system and tackle the corruption problem, said Madame Fu.
"We are making progress at an incremental pace. Deng Xiaopeng said we are trying to cross the river by touching the stones, meaning we will change only when we have to.
"But now it is time we have to move; we cannot wait any more. The Chinese government is fully aware of the challenges and taking measures to address them."
The UK had formidable advantages in trading with China, but still had some way to go, with bilateral trade running at lower levels than between China and Australia.
"UK technological investment is a quarter that of Germany and behind Finland.
"There are 90,000 Chinese students in the UK, but even in Birmingham University, compared with other countries, its share of Chinese students is not very high.
"But there is great potential for us to work together with the UK and Birmingham as well, there are strong complimentary links between the two."
Nanjing Automobile's investment in MG at Longbridge was being closely watched in Beijing and the rest of China, Madame Fu said.
"There is a strong services sector, exhibition capabilities and pharmaceutical sector. I have been to MG and Jaguar and been very impressed, but that doesn't mean I am going to buy Jaguar.
"There are lots of things Chinese companies would be interested in. MG is a great example of how we can blend advantages at two sites to produce a strong product.
British firms could help and advise Chinese firms as they look to improve their skills and invest in foreign companies.
Madame Fu said Chinese firms were also looking at environmental technology which could reduce energy use and reduce pollution as well as upgrading its manufacturing capabilities.
She said: "The launch of the 'Birmingham China Business Forum' is an excellent platform for the cooperation between enterprises.
"I trust that the forum will play a positive role in facilitating information-sharing, and promote trade and economic cooperation between our two countries to a higher level."