Welcome to the Scotland China Association website

First Minister visits China

by Website Editor, 22 July 2015, updated 4 August 2015

Scottish Government First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made her first official trip to China this week. During the six-day visit, the First Minister undertook a series of high profile engagements to promote Scottish business in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, including hosting an "innovation showcase" for Scottish companies to meet with Chinese investors, as well as various cultural and educational engagements.

A series of announcements have been made during the visit - links to these, and a selection of the associated media coverage, are given below :

  • for the initial announcement of the visits, and general comment, see this Scottish Government news release and media reports from The Scotsman ; The Herald ; The National ; and the BBC
  • daily summaries were issued on the First Minister's own web page during the visit - 27 July (Beijing) ; 28 July (Beijing) ; 29 July (Shanghai) ; 30 July (Hong Kong) ; 31 July (Hong Kong)
  • official Scottish Government photos of the visit can be found on the First Minister's Flickr channel, here (all images are from this source unless otherwise stated)
  • ahead of her visit, Ms Sturgeon announced that food and drink exports from Scotland to China are worth £85m to the Scottish economy, with the latest figures showing that the value of food and drink exports to China has risen by 12% in a year, and has soared 83% since 2007 - fish and seafood makes up the bulk of exports with £43m worth of Scottish products being exported to China last year - for details, see this Scottish Government news release and media reports from the BBC and STV
  • a new £3m fund to allow Chinese whisky connoisseurs to invest in some of Scotland’s rarest drams has been launched. The fund, generated by members of the Single Malt Club China (SMCC), will be used to buy rare and valuable malts, such as limited editions from distilleries or bottles from single caskets. On Sunday 26th July, the First Minister opened the SMCC's new Whisky Experience Centre in Beijing - for more details, see this Scottish Government news release

  • an additional 21 Confucius Classrooms are to be created to support Chinese language learning by primary pupils - for more details, see this Scottish Government news release and also this amusing Daily Record article
  • the First Minister also observed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the University of Glasgow and Nankai University in Tianjin, one of China's top research universities, reported in The Herald - the universities' Joint Graduate School, which will open its doors next month, is the first postgraduate higher education programme to be set up on a Chinese university campus in partnership with a UK institution

  • Ms Sturgeon made a major speech on women's rights in Beijing on 27 July, saying "for virtually every nation, fully empowering women is probably the single simplest way, in which they can sustainably increase their productive potential. Gender equality can help to transform the global economy" - for more details, see this Scottish Government news release, with her full speech available here, and this report from the BBC - this event was hosted by the Chinese's People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the SCA's longstanding partner organisation in China, and the official inviting organisation for the First Minister's visit, see also this report on and their website
  • partnership agreements for Scottish firms in China worth more than £43m were signed at a business event in Beijing on 27 July, according to reports from China Daily and The Courier - companies and other organisations involved are reported to include Sgurr Energy (wind farms, see their news release), KAL (cash machine software), Care Visions (care for the elderly), Calnex (mobile phone technology, see their news release and this Scotland on Sunday report), GB Therma Chem (boiler cleaning and maintenance), Distrify Media (video distribution), We.Data, the University of Aberdeen (new links with Harbin Engineering University, see their news release and this Press and Journal article), Napier University and TEFL Scotland (English training for China Daily, see this Press and Journal article)

  • the First Minister met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on 28 July, and also renewed the Cultural Memorandum of Understanding first signed in 2011 - for more details, see this Scottish Government news release ; this Xinhua report (from which the above image is taken) and this report in the Hong Kong Standard
  • also on 28 July, Ms Sturgeon met senior representatives from Sinopec, PetroChina and CNOOC, three of the world’s largest oil and gas companies and large investors in Scotland’s offshore industry, and met with Scottish energy companies working in China - for more details, see this Scottish Government news release
  • on 29 July, Ms Sturgeon announced expansion plans by Scottish companies, visiting a new £3m factory for textile manufacturers J&D Wilkie in Jiaxing, near Shanghai (a city 500 times bigger than the company's home in Kirriemuir !), housing an integrated spinning and weaving unit and designed to consolidate their operations on one site, and a new animation training partnership by Digimania in Shanghai - for more details, see this Scottish Government news release and this BBC report
  • also on 29 July in Shanghai, Ms Sturgeon viewed video security technology provided by Scottish company IndigoVision at Shanghai's Hongqiao airport - for more details, see this report in The Herald (free subscription required)
  • on 30 July in Hong Kong, Ms Sturgeon launched a low carbon innovation hub, which is partnering with the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), part of the University of Edinburgh, to promote the adoption of low carbon and sustainable technologies in the city and the Pearl River Delta - for more details, see this South China Morning Post report and this BBC report
  • on 31 July, Ms Sturgeon met Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Carrie Lam to discuss opportunities for economic collaboration between Hong Kong and Scotland, and other issues - for more details, see this Scottish Government news release
  • Ms Sturgeon was interviewed by the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, see here
  • Ms Sturgeon spoke at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong on 31 July, see here for event details and full video of her talk, and this Scottish Government news release for the prepared text of her talk
  • an additional health linkup was reported on 4 August, with and managers from China’s leading healthcare companies to receive support and training from two of Scotland’s most prominent universities - for more details, see here
  • the final Scottish Government news release, issued 2 August, reported Ms Sturgeon's attendance at a fashion event in Hong Kong, and gave a summary of the announcements and deals concluded during the trip - see also this wrap-up article by the First Minister in The Scotsman

Issues that might well have come up during the trip include continuing efforts to secure a direct flight between Scotland and China (the most recent speculation on moves by Hainan Airlines is here).

On a lighter note, the First Minister may have drawn the attention of her Chinese hosts to this recent TV football deal, which will bring live Scottish football to mainstream television in China for the first time. This was part of a wider agreement announced by her predecessor during his 2013 visit. The new deal will make 55 Premiership matches available across TV, online and mobile - perhaps even those of the Ayrshire-born politician's own favourite team, Ayr United ?

This trip follows four previous visits by Ms Sturgeon's predecessor as First Minister, Alex Salmond. He went to China in April 2009 (see this news release and later ones that week) ; July 2010 (see this news release and later ones that week) ; December 2011 (see this news release and later ones that week) and in December 2013 (see our round-up on this page).