New Scotland-China flight link part of energy trade strategy

China news

The Scottish Government has published its new China strategy, setting out plans for stronger trade links with the world’s largest economy.

The document follows the First Minister’s visit to China in April, and comes as a new direct flight between Edinburgh and Beijing begins.

Ministers want Scotland to become a “preferred trade and investment partner” in the country in the fields of energy, technology and engineering, financial services, food and drink, life sciences, tourism, textiles and education.

They are also committed to building cooperation on environmental and sustainability issues, and developing closer links between universities and other research institutions.

Campaign groups have previously urged the government not prioritise Chinese trade links over human rights.

A memorandum of understanding between the government and two state-backed Chinese firms, potentially worth £10 billion, collapsed in 2016 amid concerns over the issue.

The government’s strategy states: “Respect for human rights and the rule of law are also fundamental to our engagement with China. This means balancing economic development with social justice.”

It said ministers’ approach is informed by “collaborative work” with Scottish human rights organisations.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “China is one of the Scottish Government’s priority countries for international relations, and the reasons for that are clear.

“As the world’s largest economy, and one where the links with Scotland are already strong, there are significant opportunities.

“This strategy sets out how we aim to build on those links to the benefit of Scotland – whether that is the business community, educational institutions or cultural organisations.

“It explains why closer collaboration in a range of fields can develop mutual understanding and lead to further opportunity for exports and inward investment.

“The strategy also explains that respect for human rights and equality remain a key part of our relationship with China, and that economic growth and tackling inequality are mutually supportive.”