First Minister Alex Salmond has hailed the strong bond of friendship between Scotland and China in a new year message that heralds the advent of the Year of the Snake.
With Scottish exports to the world’s second largest economy rising sharply, the First Minister used his Chinese New Year message to highlight the benefits brought to both countries through deepening Sino-Scottish relations.
Mr Salmond pointed to recent export figures that showed Chinese business had brought in an additional £605m to the Scottish economy, before highlighting recent inward investment by Chinese firms that see Scotland as an excellent place to do business.
In his message to Chinese people living in Scotland and across the world, Mr Salmond welcomed recent Chinese investments in a range of industries, with Scottish firms in the oil and gas, refining, textiles and engineering sectors all entering into mutually beneficial deals with Chinese investors.
He also used his address to say that the relationship was about more than economics, with strengthening ties seeing an influx of Chinese students eager to learn in Scotland and increasing bonds in the cultural and diplomatic sphere, symbolised by the arrival of the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo.
The First Minister said:
“As the year of the Dragon draws to a close and we welcome the year of the Snake, I would like to extend my best wishes to the people of China. This is an appropriate time to reflect on the strengthening relations between Scotland and China, which bring great benefits to both our countries.
“Since the Scottish Government first published a China plan back in 2006, and gave a five year strategy for engagement with your wonderful country, Scottish exports to China have risen by 45 per cent and in turn Scotland has seen major investments from China in industries such as oil and gas, refining, textiles and engineering.
“I know that this deepening friendship is appreciated on both sides. Our new China Strategy– published just last month – has been welcomed by the Chinese Government. As First Minister of Scotland, I was honoured to receive a letter from the Chinese Consul General in Edinburgh, in which he said the partnership was highly valued and would bring ’promising prospects’ to both of our great countries.
“It is clear that Chinese investors see Scotland – the land of invention – as a great place to do business and we know Chinese people are increasingly keen to get hold of our top quality food and drink products with exports of Scottish salmon and whisky now at record levels.
“But our friendship is based on so much more than economics. We have bonds across a range of sectors, from education and academia, to digital expertise and to culture. From giant pandas in the zoo at Edinburgh to digitisation of the Eastern Tombs of the Qing Dynasty by Historic Scotland.
“For example, China now sends the largest number of students of any country to Scottish universities, with more than 6,000 Chinese students now taking advantage of Scotland’s world-class education system.
“So, the future for Scotland’s relationship with China and China’s relationship with Scotland is bright and I am in no doubt that during the next five years, the friendship will grow, and continue to deliver fantastic results for the people of Scotland and the people of China.
“I would therefore like to take this opportunity as First Minister of Scotland to wish you all good fortune and a Happy New Year.”