The RIBA is set to host negotiations that, if successful, will bring a proposed mutual recognition agreement with China considerably nearer.
If the high-level talks with the Architects Society of China (ASC) and the Architects Council of Europe (ACE) see a breakthrough, they will open up the massive Chinese market to British practices.
The meeting - scheduled for 16 September at the RIBA's Portland Place HQ - follows the success of the informal discussions held earlier this year between former vice-president (international relations) John Wright, representing ACE, and a delegation from the Chinese government (AJ 26.6.03).
If it goes through, the move will mean that British architects will be allowed to work freely in China without having to collaborate with a local practice. However, it will also mean Chinese offices will be able to work in the UK.
The RIBA's policy boss Ian Pritchard said the latest talks were an important step forward. 'This is the first official meeting and mutual recognition remains a long way off, but it is an exciting proposition, ' he said.
Following next week's talks, the Chinese delegation - including the CSA president, vice president and various other movers and shakers - will make a series of presentations.
These talks will discuss issues including urban design in China and the architecture of the Beijing Olympic Games.