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Scotland's Strategy for Stronger Engagement with China


3. Sino-Scottish Links

Scotland and China have a foundation of deep and long-standing bilateral links upon which to build an even stronger relationship in the future.

Scottish links with China date back into the 19th century and beyond. Our people have been doing business together for over two centuries. Long-standing links also exist in the fields of education and science: botanists from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh have been active in China for over a century, for example.

Founded on these historical links, modern Scotland and China are interconnected through expanding networks in numerous fields. To highlight just a few:

  • Business: In industry, Scottish-based firms such as Clyde Blowers, Howden and Caledonian Alloys have been blazing a trail in China. Food and drinks companies including Scottish & Newcastle and the Edrington Group have established a significant market presence in China, while life sciences and software companies are also establishing a footing in the Chinese market. In financial services, RBS, Standard Life and Martin Currie have similarly made pioneering investments in China.
  • Education: Sino-Scottish education links are burgeoning at all levels. The Scottish Executive has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Education. The Scottish Qualifications Authority is playing an important role in developing educational capacity within China. Most Scottish further and higher education institutions now have direct links with counterparts in China. Schools links are flourishing too, with increasing numbers of teacher and pupil exchanges. Chinese students currently make up the largest international student body in Scotland.
  • Science: Increasing numbers of Scottish researchers are collaborating with counterparts in China. The Royal Society of Edinburgh has a formal relationship with the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh continues to pioneer in bilateral research, having founded the first joint
    UK-China research facility in Yunnan Province - now one of the world's most important centres for plant conservation.
  • Culture: Sino-Scottish links in the cultural sphere include the "One Million Days in China" exhibition at the Burrell Museum in Glasgow (2004-05) which attracted over 250,000 visitors. Scotland has also hosted some of China's finest performing arts companies including the Chinese National Beijing Opera Company in 2005.
  • Government: Bilateral links between our governments at various levels are also flourishing. Both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have recently visited China, while Scotland has welcomed the most senior Chinese visitors including President Hu Jintao and Education Minister Zhou Ji. Relations have also been formed at local authority level: various Scottish cities and regions are twinned with counterparts in China. Governmental links are further strengthened by the presence of the Chinese consulate in Edinburgh and by the newly established Scottish Affairs Office in Beijing.

The devolved government of Scotland, through its China Strategy, aims to create an enabling environment in which existing links can deepen and new links be established.