Matt Burney
Country Director, British Council China
Minister (Culture and Education), British Embassy Beijing

UK-China Exchange: Arts and Culture in a Pandemic

Matt Burney is the Director of the British Council in China, where he oversees the United Kingdom’s cultural relations and educational exchange work. He was appointed to the role in September 2019 to lead one of the largest country operations in the British Council’s global network of 100+ offices. In addition to these responsibilities, he holds the diplomatic rank of Minister, responsible for managing the UK’s education and cultural relationship with China, on behalf of the British embassy in Beijing.

Matt has held numerous strategic leadership positions since joining the British Council in 1997, promoting cultural and educational opportunities in Japan, the Czech Republic and Ireland.

In 2000, Matt spearheaded the British Council’s expansion of cultural and education work in South West China. This included the establishment of a South West China office in Chongqing. From 2010 to 2015, he was Area Director East China, based in Shanghai. During this time he oversaw the growth of a dynamic and ambitious programme driven through close collaboration and partnership with UK and Chinese cultural and educational organisations. This culminated in the creation of the British Centre, that brought together the UK’s cultural actors in one place in China.

He takes over the leadership at a time when the British Council is implementing an ambitious global strategy to bring clear outcomes, strong evidence and greater benefit to people in the UK and the countries and areas where it works through cultural relations.