Scotland/China news

40th anniversary of diplomatic relations

by Website Editor, 16 March 2012

On 13 March 1972, full Ambassadorial Diplomatic Relations were established between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom. On 13 March 2012, the 40th anniversary of this auspicious occasion was celebrated at the Chinese Consulate-General in Edinburgh.

The event was hosted by Consul-General Li Ruiyou, with guests including Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs ; Mr John Scott, Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament ; and Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, former Governor of Hong Kong. The SCA was represented by Vice President Eddie McGuire, Chairman Janice Dickson, Glasgow Branch Chairman Barry Moore and National Committee member Graham Thompson.

In his speech, the Consul-General noted that the UK was the first major Western country to recognise the New China in 1950, and to establish diplomatic relations at charge d'affaires level in 1954.

Photos courtesy of the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Edinburgh

In addition, Mr Li highlighted many significant developments in the relationship between Scotland and China. For example, he said :

  • trade volume between Scotland and China has increased from £678m in 2001 to £1,458m in 2011
  • China is a key market for Scottish food and drink, with whisky exports worth £57m in the 12 months to June 2011, and the country is now the largest export destination for Scottish farmed salmon in the Far East and the fifth largest globally
  • there were 6,145 Chinese students studying in Scottish universities in 2011
  • Scotland now has three Confucius Institutes and 10 Confucius Classrooms, "the highest concentration worldwide in terms of population"
  • around 20,000 Chinese tourists visited Scotland in 2011

For the future, the Consul said be believed "there is great potential for matching China's dynamism with Scotland's strengths". For example, he explained that health care and new energy were two sectors being developed in the current 12th Five Year Plan, and that "China and Scotland are highly complementary in these industries".

He concluded by noting that "the major factors that have made the achievements out of the 40 years of collaboration are people, people of both sides who have dedicated so much to promoting, protecting and nursing the relationship between our two countries".

At this event, our Chairman Janice Dickson took the opportunity to mark a notable 40th anniversary for the SCA, when she presented Consul-General Li with a copy of the first issue of Sine, which was published in Spring 1972. For more details, see here.

Edinburgh's clipper yacht in Qingdao

by Website Editor, 24 February 2012 (based on a news release provided by Marketing Edinburgh on behalf of the clipper and its crew)

Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, the Scottish entry in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, arrived in Qingdao, Shandong Province, yesterday (23 February) to a hero’s welcome after completing one of the toughest legs of the world’s longest ocean race - a journey that recalls memories of the great tea clipper races of the nineteenth century.

The vessel's distinctive purple livery made a big impact in the bright early morning sunshine and a freezing wind in Qingdao – and it was definitely too cold for kilts. The arrival reflected the Scottish team’s heroic efforts in completing this tough race, finishing in eighth place. They were greeted at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre with a spectacular ceremony including fireworks, drums and, not least, dozens of Chinese and international media who all fought to get pictures and interviews.

The photos below show the yacht arriving Qingdao ; the crew being welcomed by local children ; and crew member Anne Young of Glasgow coming ashore.

As they stepped on to the pontoon in Qingdao after 19 days at sea in this challenging stage from Singapore, the yacht's skipper, Gordon Reid, said, “it’s absolutely fantastic getting into Qingdao. It’s so overwhelming to see the crowds and such good fun to experience what they’ve done for us”.

Describing the gruelling days at sea Gordon said, “it got quite lumpy on the water outside Taiwan, as the weather got rough. Some waves being bigger than others, the largest ones felt like falling off a cliff in a double decker bus with no brakes – but it’s been fantastic. All in all the guys put in a great performance and it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable race”.

Upon arrival in Qingdao the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew of 12 was surrounded by dragon dancers whose performance demonstrated the respect the local people have for the crews. Gifts of flowers, hats and scarves were given to the crew and the skipper was draped in a yellow cape, which symbolises nobleness and in ancient China it was only worn when emperors and generals set out on battlefields and returned victorious.

The crew of the Scottish entry was visibly blown away by the spectacular welcome, including Anne Young from Glasgow. The 26-year-old, who has swapped life as an optometrist with a life changing experience at sea, said, “How overwhelming to get off a boat and see hundreds of people with flags, music and have children handing you flowers. It is such an incredible feeling". She added, “the rough weather at sea has been hard to deal with at times. At 45 degrees it’s hard to do the normal daily tasks like brushing your teeth, but to experience the actual sailing in speed was phenomenal”.

The Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew - some on-board for the entire journey, others taking part over specific legs and many having never sailed before - includes a mum and son from Edinburgh, 18 transplant patients and professionals, including a double lung transplant recipient, and even a hairy ‘Heilan Coo’ - Hector, the boat's official mascot.

The crew were formally welcomed to the city by Wang Xiulin, Vice Mayor of Qingdao. He said, “battling treacherous waves and ferocious winds in this grim winter, you have successfully finished this harsh leg with your strong will, outstanding courage and professional sailing prowess. This remarkable feat allows the Qingdao citizens to once again experience the splendid world-class sailing event”.

During the stopover in Qingdao a diverse programme of cultural activities awaits the crew and skippers of the ten-strong fleet, including meeting local families and ceremonial activities, as well as sponsors, including Marketing Edinburgh, using the Clipper Race as a platform to do business and build relationships with Chinese organisations.

This is the fourth time Edinburgh has sponsored an entry and hosted the Clipper Race fleet. During this race, the city’s official promotional body, Marketing Edinburgh, will oversee an international campaign to maximise exposure for Edinburgh in selected ports. “The Clipper race offers a tremendous opportunity to engage with a massive worldwide audience,” said Lucy Bird, CEO of Marketing Edinburgh. “We will be working hard to promote Edinburgh’s profile in specific markets throughout the race, attracting the interest of the international business community, students and visitors".  Shandong Province has received particular attention from The Scottish Government in its China Plan, with various business initiatives being announced recently. It is also where Eric Liddell, the famous Olympic runner, is buried after his untimely death in 1945, in a Japanese internment camp at Weihsien (now Weifang).

The race started in Southampton, UK on 31 July 2011 and will end there on 22 July 2012 after taking 51 weeks to travel over 40,000 miles visiting 15 ports of call on six continents. The race was established 15 years ago by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world, in order to give ordinary people the chance to do something truly extraordinary.

For more details, see the Clipper Race website.


Scottish dance reels for the Dragon

By Tom Nisbet and Dale Finlayson, 18 February 2012

About fifty members and friends from the Edinburgh Chinese Association of Professionals (ECAP) and the SCA enjoyed a traditional Scottish ceilidh, Chinese style, on 4 February at the North Merchiston Club in Polwarth, Edinburgh. The hall was festooned with lanterns, to mark the Lantern Festival ending the Chinese festival fortnight, and the decorations set the scene for a memorable night.

Andy Cook was the MC/caller/bullyboy, and David Sturgeon, on accordion, provided the music. Soft drinks and nibbles were spread on the tables, but the main interest was socialising and dancing.

The ceilidh was organised by ECAP, some of whose members have been learning Scottish country dancing from a small team of SCA members and friends. The efforts on both sides were evidenced by the skills evinced by so many happy feet skipping about the floor – and by the ECAP demonstration team who performed Lady Catherine Bruce’s Reel and Lamb Skinnet to loud applause. You can see some of the dancing on Youtube here.

The energy expended during the Dashing White Sergeant, the St Bernard’s Waltz, the Circassian Circle and other ceilidh dances – not least the newly choreographed Dragon's Dance would have powered a small town. All told, the jiggin and birlin was "fast and furious" and, apart from the odd mistake, perfect !

If a warm, welcoming atmosphere, kids in lovely dresses, ear-threatening decibels, gales of laughter, and demands for more, again, soon, are anything to go by, the event was a huge success and will certainly be repeated – but only after everyone has fully recovered from a hectic and fun-filled evening.

The photographs were taken by Li Xiaoyang, Rose Zhou, and Dane Murdoch.


New Hong Kong education links

By Website Editor, 16 January 2012

Scotland's education and cultural links with Hong Kong have received a significant boost with the launch on 13 January of the Hong Kong Scotland Education Connection (HKSEC). Teachers from Morrison's Academy and Crieff High School and business and education leaders from Hong Kong attended a reception in Edinburgh hosted by the Scotland China Education Network.

Nigel Fong, a Hong Kong businessman educated at Morrison's Academy, inaugurated HKSEC with a passionate speech, drawing from his own experiences of developing education charities in Hong Kong and Guangdong province of mainland China. His slogan is “Make it happen”, and this was repeated by Patrick O'Kane, his former teacher at Morrison's, who stressed the enormous value of cross-cultural opportunities for both Scottish and Hong Kong pupils visiting each other's schools and homes.

Archie McGlynn, a former Chief Inspector of Schools and now Director of the Hong Kong Schools Self-Evaluation Network, explained how he had helped to transfer Scottish experience of school development to the Hong Kong system. Through such initiatives as school newspapers which have helped Hong Kong pupils to contribute to their school's growth in a way that the traditional Confucian style of teaching does not usually allow.

The launch's host, Judith McClure of SCEN, said “HKSEC has a powerful vision and inspiring leaders”, adding, “I am confident that it will enable teachers and pupils in Hong Kong and in Scotland to learn from each other and that it will grow”.

The launch of HKSEC was also supported by a wide range of Scottish organisations, including the Confucius Institute at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow Confucius Institute, the Scotland China Association, The Blackford Trust and several leading businesses involved with China.

HKSEC's website can be found here.