Tobacco boss wins role in Zemin's visit

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The Independent Online

The head of Britain's biggest tobacco company is playing a key role in the Chinese President's state visit through a business forum set up by Tony Blair, it emerged last night.

The head of Britain's biggest tobacco company is playing a key role in the Chinese President's state visit through a business forum set up by Tony Blair, it emerged last night.

Anti-smoking campaigners reacted with fury to news that the chief executive of British American Tobacco (BAT) will chair the industry sub-committee of the new UK China Forum.

Martin Broughton, who has been closely involved in promoting tobacco in China, was also a guest at a state banquet for President Jiang Zemin on Tuesday.

Clive Bates, director of Action on Smoking and Health, has written to the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, objecting to the tobacco company's leading role in strengthening UK business links with China, the world's biggest market for tobacco.

Mr Bates has asked Mr Cook to remove Mr Broughton from the industry committee. "We would like to think that Britain has something better to offer China and Tibet than cancer, heart disease, emphysema and addiction," he wrote.

But the Foreign Office said his appointment was out of its hands. He was given the role by Michael Heseltine, the former Tory deputy prime minister, who heads the task force.

BAT said Mr Broughton was involved in an international business leaders' council set up by the Chinese Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, when the latter was mayor of Shanghai. Mr Rongji launched the UK China Business Forum with Mr Blair during a visit by the UK Prime Minister last Autumn.

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