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To ask the Scottish Executive what information it can provide regarding the First Minister’s most recent visit to China.

Answered by Fiona Hyslop (21/02/2012):

The First Minister visited China and Hong Kong from 3 to 10 December spending four days in Beijing, one day in Shandong, one day in Shenzhen and two days in Hong Kong before returning home. The main purpose of the First Minister’s visit was to take forward areas of Sino-Scottish collaboration which were identified during Vice Premier Li’s visit to Scotland in January 2011 and the then Minister for Enterprise, Jim Mather’s follow-up visit to China in March.

The First Minister began the official visit to China by attending the Beijing Caledonian Society’s St Andrew’s Day Ball to increase awareness and promote Scotland’s national day to key business people in China, diaspora and members of the Scottish expatriate community.

On Sunday the First Minister visited the Eastern Qing Tombs to demonstrate support for the agreement between Historic Scotland and the Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage for Historic Scotland to digitally map the site as part of its Scottish Ten project.

That evening the First Minister visited Whisky Spirit Empire’s headquarters, Beijing, an ambitious new Chinese Trading Company which imports single malt whisky from Scotland to the Chinese market. The First Minister showed support for Spirit Empire’s plans to open 300 whisky stores across China over the next three years and also welcomed the news that Sprit Empire intends to open a purchasing and business development facility in Scotland in 2012.

The first Government-level meeting of the First Minister’s visit was with Vice Minister Xia Xinghua, Deputy Administrator, Civil Aviation Administration China (CAAC). This meeting was to continue discussions about the proposed direct air route between Scotland and China. The First Minister and the Vice Minister progressed the discussions to establish such a link by agreeing that a high-level industry led team from China would visit Scotland early in 2012 to examine the detailed business case for a direct route and to work with Scottish Government officials and it agencies.

At the Ministry of Culture the First Minister held two government-level meetings beginning with Minister Gu of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) and the second with Minister Cai of the Ministry of Culture where they discussed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Culture between China and Scotland which would be signed following the meeting. The First Minister also invited Minister Cai to the International Cultural Summit that Scotland would be hosting after the London Olympics.

The First Minister and Minister Cai then signed the MoU on Culture between Scotland and China. Following the signing, they then saw the first cultural collaborations resulting from the MoU by witnessing the signing of the agreement between Historic Scotland and the SACH for the Eastern Qing Tombs to be digitally mapped as part of the Scottish Ten project and the signing of a cultural MoU between the Edinburgh International Festival and the China International Culture Association.

The First Minister then met with Vice Premier Li Keqiang to discuss progress on issues that had been identified following the Vice Premier’s successful visit to Scotland in January 2011. Both the Vice Premier and the First Minister said that they were pleased at how relations between Scotland and China have been strengthening and that they were keen to see this continue. In order to see this happen the Vice Premier pledged his support to take forward three key areas for greater cooperation between China and Scotland: on healthcare, water management and infrastructure, and airline connectivity.

The First Minister then addressed a reception in Beijing which was being held to promote Scottish culture following the signing of the MoU on culture between Scotland and China. The reception, which also provided the audience to sample a large selection of Scotland’s finest food and drink, was attended by around 300 guests from a variety of sectors across China including business, culture, tourism and education. The First Minister also witnessed a performance of Tam O’Shanter by Scottish Opera and around 45 Chinese school children before presenting sashes to newly qualified Chinese Scottish tourism ambassadors.

On Tuesday the First Minister began the day by highlighting the work of Adam Smith and his relevance to modern China in both his keynote address to the party school of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Beijing and in presenting a gift of a bronze of the Scottish moral philosopher and founder of economic science, Adam Smith. The First Minister also used the teachings of Smith to raise the critical issue of climate justice, referencing the vital UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa. The First Minister cited Smith’s first masterpiece, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”, during his address to some of China’s emerging political figures – and highlighted Smith’s contribution to the Enlightenment as an example of the kind of moral courage needed now to fight climate change.

Following the keynote speech the First Minister met with Mr. Li Keping, Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of China Investment Corporation (CIC), China’s largest sovereign wealth fund. The First Minister introduced the representatives from four Scottish asset management companies who accompanied the delegation and Anne McColl, CEO of SDI introduced examples of infrastructure investment opportunities in Scotland and asked CIC to consider those projects for future investment, as well as cooperation with Scottish companies in asset management.

The First Minister next met with Vice Minister Liu Qi of the National Energy Administration (NEA) to discuss follow-up activity from the NEAs recent wind mission to Scotland. The First Minister and Mr Liu discussed how Scotland can work together with China to develop China’s domestic and international renewable interests. The First Minister also outlined the Scottish Government’s latest plans for another round of offshore wind leases in Scottish Waters which would provide ample opportunity to Chinese investors. The First Minister then discussed Scotland’s Marine Energy plans and how NEA could work with Scotland to develop their own Marine Energy sector. The First Minister agreed to establish a Working Group led by SDI to establish relations in this area.

At the meeting with the Ministry of Commerce (MofCom) the First Minister met Vice Minister Chen Jian. They discussed the potential investment opportunities that Scotland has to offer to Chinese investors and the First Minister outlined the attractiveness of Scotland for foreign direct investment. The Vice Minister and First Minister’s agreed that more should be done to encourage introductions between Chinese and Scottish Businesses. In order to take this forward they agreed three key steps: to utilise opportunities for Scottish companies at trade fairs; to establish a working mechanism to encourage trade and investment between Scottish and Chinese companies; and to build a platform for exchanges between businesses.

The First Minister then made another keynote speech at the Scottish Asset Management Forum to a group of 50 Chinese guests from China’s key financial institutions including sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies, banks, security and fund management companies. The First Minister emphasised the Scottish Government’s intention to strengthen cooperation with China in the financial services area, outlining the importance of Scotland’s asset management sector to Scotland, the UK and the world.

The First Minister next joined SDI and Scotland Food and Drink at a Scottish Food & Drink promotion event. He made a closing address to an audience of 70 Chefs and Purchasing Managers from Beijing’s leading hotels, restaurants and supermarkets. The First Minister discussed the quality and traceability of Scotland’s Salmon and Seafood Industries and launched Scotland’s Asian Food & Drink Strategy, which aims to significantly increase Scottish exports to Asian markets with a major emphasis on China.

That evening the First Minister hosted a CEO dinner attended by CEOs or senior directors from major Chinese companies with an interest in working in, or with, Scotland. The First Minister emphasised Scotland’s commitment to business cooperation with China, encouraged links between Chinese companies and Scottish ones, and invited them to visit Scotland to learn about Scotland’s business and investment environment.

On Wednesday the First Minister began the day by travelling to Dezhou in China’s Shandong Province to visit Himin Solar, the largest Solar Energy Heating company in China. The First Minister hosted a roundtable working group with Himin’s senior management and research and development group along with the Mayor of Dehzhou. The First Minister committed SDI to hosting a working group in Scotland to strengthen relationships with Scottish companies working in the solar heating sector and invited Himin’s management and research and development teams to attend.

The First Minister then moved to Jinan, Shandong Province’s capital to host a working group to reinforce the long-term relationship that has been built between the Scottish Government and Shandong Provincial Government since 2006. The First Minister and Governor Jiang Damin chaired the working group between officials from both sides where they discussed opportunities for collaboration in specific sectors as well as trade and investment opportunities. The First Minister and the governor then signed an innovation focused MoU which encouraged closer working in the areas of: traditional and renewable energy supported by two MoU announcements.

On Thursday the First Minister began the day in Shenzhen by meeting with Mayor Xu Qin, where they discussed how to strengthen the relationship between Scotland and Shenzhen and how to promote trade and investment opportunities.

The First Minister then visited Huawei Technology and met with Ms Chen Lifang, Senior Vice President of Huawei. The First Minister and Ms Chen discussed potential cooperation opportunities between Huawei and Scotland.

At the China Development Bank Shenzhen (CDB) the First Minister met Vice Governor Mr. Liu Wensheng where he briefed Mr. Liu about Scotland’s infrastructure development plan. The First Minister welcomed CDB to participate in financing such projects in Scotland including demonstrator projects where Chinese companies can partner with Scottish companies.

The First Minister then opened SDI’s Trade and Investment development seminar in Shenzhen, addressing over 120 of Shenzhen’s leading technology development companies. The First Minister focused on Scotland’s history of innovation and Scotland’s ability to develop IP and new products. The First Minister also highlighted the SDI and SCDI trade missions that accompanied him on this trip as a sign of Scottish industry’s great interest in developing Chinese partnerships and in accessing Chinese markets.

After travelling to Hong Kong on Thursday evening the First Minister met with Hutchison Whampoa’s CEO Canning Fok on Friday morning. The First Minister congratulated Hutchison Whampoa on their current investment in Scotland, particularly in their service centre for their telecommunications subsidiary “3”. The First Minister discussed the potential for future investments and expansions by HWL and he also invited them to consider future investments in Scotland’s infrastructure.

Following that meeting the First Minister then hosted a business lunch to address
25 financiers and hotel developers with an interest in investing in the hotel industry in Scotland. The First Minister highlighted Scotland’s high hotel occupancy rates (the highest in Europe) and the significant returns that are available from investing in Scottish hotel developments. VisitScotland then presented on its activity in Asia, noting the increased interest and rise in visitors from Asia in recent years.

The First Minister then attended a private meeting with a large, Asia-focused, banking group to discuss the potential to establish a greater presence in Scotland.

The First Minister then joined SDI and Scotland Food and Drink at a Scottish food and drink promotion event. The First Minister opened the event to an audience of 30 chefs and purchasing managers from Hong Kong’s leading hotels, restaurants and supermarkets. The First Minister discussed the quality and traceability of Scotland’s salmon and seafood Industries and launched Scotland’s Asian Food & Drink Strategy, which aims to significantly increase Scottish exports to Asian markets including Hong Kong.

The First Minister then hosted a Scotland-Hong Kong Reception along with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and HSBC to an audience of 120 senior business figures from Hong Kong’s leading industries.

The First Minister finished off the day by meeting with Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang. This meeting was a follow-up to the one that took place in Edinburgh during Mr Tsang’s official visit to Scotland in September 2011. They discussed strengthening collaboration in key areas including education, sport, and financial services. They agreed that the development of strong and sustainable links between Scotland and Hong Kong is important in delivering mutual benefits.

The First Minister’s first engagement on his final day of the visit was to attend a rugby sevens event between young people from Operation Breakthrough and expatriates, this was followed by a sevens match between Hong Kong Scottish and the Hong Kong Disciplined Services. This event helped promote stronger links between Scotland and Hong Kong through rugby, with Scotland the birthplace of rugby and Hong Kong the home of sevens, on the international stage. Hong Kong’s Operation Breakthrough also has obvious parallels with the Scottish Government’s Cashback for Communities programme and it was agreed to build a long-term relationship between the two projects.

The First Ministers final activity of the visit was to support SDI’s investment portfolio by hosting a round of golf with three leading potential investors into Scotland.

The First Minister’s visit also attracted significant media attention both at home and in China and Hong Kong reaching a global audience of 2.6 billion over the period of the visit.

Current Status: Initiated by the Scottish Government. Answered by Fiona Hyslop on 21/02/2012
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