First Minister Alex Salmond has taken Scotland to the heart of the Chinese Government in a high-level meeting with State Councillor Yang Jiechi during his trade mission to China.
During the meeting, which was held in the Chinese leadership headquarters in Beijing, the First Minister presented State Councillor Yang –who holds China’s most senior foreign affairs role - with a Mandarin version of the Scottish Government’s China Strategy, outlining the four guiding principles of Scotland’s engagement with the country.
The First Minister and State Councillor Yang also discussed how Scotland and China could forge a deeper friendship by building on recent successes such as increasing trade and investment and a memorandum of understanding that has extended the cultural partnership between the two nations.
The First Minister said:
“My fourth visit to China in five years reflects the importance of the trade and investment relationship between Scotland and this country, as well as the enduring friendship between our cultures that has seen collaborations and exchanges in a range of fields over recent years.
“My meeting with State Councillor Yang was extremely beneficial, and I was taken with how well informed he was about Scotland and the business and cultural links that already exist between our two countries. He exuded friendship towards the Scottish people, having been a visitor to Scotland during his career as a young diplomat.
“Throughout the meeting, he talked of how Scotland was a fortunate country in terms of its innovation and natural resources and we were able to discuss how increasing partnerships in trade and investment as well as culture would continue to benefit both Scotland and China.
“I was delighted to be able to present State Councillor Yang with a Mandarin version of the Scottish Government’s Working with China strategy, as well as outlining how the trade delegation I am currently leading will be engaging with Chinese business over the coming days.
“I was also pleased to be able to invite State Councillor Yang to return to Scotland during our Year of Homecoming in 2014 in order that he can continue his appreciation of Scottish culture.”
Notes to editors
Yang Jiechi was promoted to State Councillor responsible for Foreign Affairs on 16 March 2013. In his new role he is China’s most senior foreign policy official. From 2007- 2013 he was Foreign Minister. He is also a member of the 18th CPC Central Committee.
The meeting, unusually agreed in advance of a plenum meeting of the Chinese Communist Party is a strong signal of friendship towards Scotland.
The visit will be the First Minister’s fourth official trip to China, building on the successful engagement with the Far Eastern country in recent years and helping meet the ambitions set out in the Scottish Government’s China Strategy to increase engagement with the world’s second largest economy and builds on recent successes that have seen exports from Scotland to China increase by 88 per cent, from £265m to £498m, between 2007 and 2012.
The strategy outlines the guiding principles of engagement with China: securing sustainable economic growth allied to social progress achieved through respect for human rights and the rule of law; understanding and exchange of culture and increasing Scotland’s influence through long-term sustained engagement.
The strategy can be read here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/12/7734
Far East markets accounted for around 2 per cent of fresh Scottish salmon exported in the years prior to 2011 when the Scottish Government secured a new import deal with the Chinese Government. This new deal followed on from the First Minister’s discussions with then Vice Premier Li KeQiang during his visit to Scotland in January 2011.
Since then, the proportion of global sales going to the Far East has risen, reaching 19 per cent in the first half of 2013 with a value of £37 million – with China (£20 million) accounting for more than half of total sales to the region in the first two quarters of this year.
Scotch whisky received geographical indication of origin status in China in 2010, protecting it against counterfeit products. This followed negotiations between the First Minister and the Deputy Minister for General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine during his visits to China in 2009 and 2010.
In 2012, exports of Scotch whisky to China were valued at £71.5 million representing a £29.4 million (70%) rise compared to 2007 when they were valued at £42.1 million. In 2012, exports to Hong Kong reached £20.7 million, up £4.2 million (26%) compared to 2007.
In October 2012, the First Minister announced that mobile company Three would create 381 jobs in Glasgow, almost doubling the size of its sales and support service hub. This follows discussions between the First Minister and Canning Fok, Group Managing Director of Hutchison Whampoa Limited during the FM’s visit to Hong Kong in December 2011.
The trade delegation will involve representatives from the oil and gas, construction and food and drink sectors. As well as Scottish Development International, confirmed participants are:
Oil and gas: Adrok Group, Addax Petroleum UK Ltd, Aggreko Group, AMEC, Energy Services International, LFH Engineering, Nautronix, The Oil & Gas Academy of Scotland (OGAS), Petrofac, Safehouse Habitats, Unmanned Production Buoy Ltd, Aberdeen University, Universities Scotland.
Construction: Construction Scotland, Anderson Strathern, Thomas & Adamson, Applegreen Homes, BRE Scotland, Holmes Miller, CBBC Scotland, Nestus, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Barr & Wray , RMJM .
At the same time as the First Minister’s visit, Six Scottish companies will also attend the China Fisheries & Seafood Expo 2013 in Dalian from 5 to 7 November where they will promote their produce at a Scottish Kitchen sponsored by Seafood Scotland and Scottish Development International.
Get news of the trade visit as it happens by following @AlexSalmond and @ScotGov on Twitter. Images will be available for use from the Scottish Government flickr channel: www.flickr.com/scottishgovernment.
When available, audio can be found at www.soundcloud.com/scotgovt