Scotland/China news

More exciting Asian art at Bonhams

On 16 November 2015, an SCA group attended a Private View ahead of the Asian Art auction at Bonhams in Edinburgh that took place two days later. This follows our previous visits in 2012 (see this article) and 2013 (see this one). Here Peter Lindow, Edinburgh Branch Chairman, describes the event.

Some 26 members and guests joined Bonhams in their Queen Street salerooms for a most enjoyable evening, with a lecture and viewing of mostly Chinese objects, with some Japanese and other Asian antiques and paintings. We were welcomed with suitable refreshment by Ian Glennie, Head of the Asian Art Department, before going upstairs to the main salon.

Just three of the many lots on show - left to right - a famille rose dish bearing the arms of William Pitt the Elder (described here) ; a huanghuali side cabinet on stand (described here) ;
and a pair of large mirrored famille rose vases (described here)

Here we found displayed a superb array of furniture and large pots, with fine fabrics strewn on low banquettes and the walls hung with early paintings and drawings, some framed, some as scrolls. In the adjoining room, Asha Edwards of the Asian Art Department and her staff explained the extensive display of jades, carvings, and smaller pottery and valuable items in glass cabinets. In all, there was a wonderful collection of over 450 lots.

The reception continued in the Board Room with a lecture by Bernadette Rankine, from the Bonhams saleroom in Singapore, showing slides of many of the paintings that derived from both China and neighbouring East Asian countries. She briefly explained the differing religions and cultures that informed the art and showed several examples. We were unfamiliar with many of the names, but were encouraged to explore our attics for overlooked paintings, perhaps brought home from the East by elderly relatives - much of this art is highly sought after and commands rather impressive prices.

We then had the opportunity to reveal any treasures we had brought with us, and Asha gave her expert opinion - shades of “Antiques Roadshow”. To my astonishment, she confirmed that my tea-brick was very collectable and one example last year sold for £1,200 !

The hospitality was generous and the evening continued with further inspections, perusing and discussion aided by canapes and refills of our glasses. Thank you once again, Bonhams !

The results of the sale on 18 November can be found here. Details of events at their Singapore showroom can also be found here. In addition, the October 2015 issue of our magazine, 'Sine', contains a fascinating article by Ian Glennie on Scots and the Chinese export porcelain trade.

Reception commemorates 1937-45 war

by Website Editor, 2 September 2015

Around a dozen members of the SCA attended a Consulate Reception on 1 September 2015 kindly hosted by Mr Pan Xinchun, Consul General of the People's Republic of China, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of “the Victory of the Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the Anti-Fascist War'. Mr Pan was accompanied by Deputy Consul General Zhang Limin, Consul Lyu Yanxia, Consular Attache Zhu Ge and other colleagues.

The Association's representatives included Janice Dickson, Chairman ; Eddie McGuire, Vice President ; Peter Lindow, Edinburgh Branch Chairman ; Barry Moore, Glasgow Branch Chairman, as well as Kate Blackadder, Charles Chan, Ken Currie, Jim Dixon, Susie Moore, Tom Nisbet, Youling Sun, Graham Thompson and Jean Ye.

Other organisations represented at the Reception included the Cross Party Group on China at the Scottish Parliament, several local authorities, the Scotland-China Education Network, the CBBC, the Eric Liddell Centre, and many more.

Those attending the reception ; Consul-General Pan making his speech

Consul General Pan made a robust speech, reflecting the Chinese government's view that “it is regrettable that Japanese government today still refuses to face squarely its history of aggression and shoulder their responsibility”. He highlighted the dreadful losses suffered by the Chinese people, and that the Japanese “committed speechless atrocities by killing millions of Chinese people, making China a living hell”. He also noted that in Japan, “some forces try to distort the history of the war by repudiating the truth of the aggression in order to whitewash militarism”. He urged Japan “to recognize correctly and introspect deeply its crimes committed in the War 70 years ago, neither because we want to prolong hatred nor to extend calamity”. Rather, “Japan should learn from history, treasure the fruit of friendship, and take concrete measures to embark on peaceful development so as to maintain peace and prosperity in Asia and the whole world”.

Mr Pan also pointed out that “the victory was China’s first complete victory in resistance against foreign invasion in modern times”. He added, “the Chinese people won the respect from peace-loving people around the world and opened up bright prospects for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

The Consul-General also highlighted the wartime co-operation between Chinese forces and British forces, as well as the humanitarian aid provided by individuals and organisations from Britain. As he said, “the UK came to China's help with economic aid and military cooperation, and in the Far East, British soldiers fought side by side with their Chinese comrade-in-arms, sustaining tremendous losses”, adding, “the Chinese people will never forget Britain's friendship”. Mr Pan gave special recognition to Eric Liddell, calling him “a legendary Scot, particularly well known and remembered in China...may he rest in peace in his beloved land”.

Ending his speech, Consul-General Pan noted that this October, Chinese President Xi Jinping will come to the UK for a State Visit. As he said, “this visit will become a milestone and start a "Golden Time" in China-UK relationship, pushing our relationship to a new high, adding, “we wish from the bottom of our heart the friendship between Chinese and British peoples rooted in the World Anti-Fascist War will stay forever and never be forgotten”, and that “we wish the world will be far away from war and people around the world live in peace together”.

The title page and a sample page from the booklet

At the end of the event, on behalf of the SCA, Janice Dickson presented the Consul-General with a rare copy of a souvenir booklet entitled 'The Capital of Scotland', produced in 1943 for foreign personnel visiting Edinburgh, which contains lovely drawings of city scenes with text in English, Polish, Russian and French, and, most notably, Chinese.

The Consulate's own report of the event is on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website here, and on the Consulate's own website here. For more on China's commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of 1937-45 war, see our article here.


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).

SCA reception at Consulate-General

by Website Editor, 16 December 2014

Around 30 members of the SCA attended a Consulate Reception on 15 December 2014 kindly hosted by Mr Pan Xinchun, Consul General of the People's Republic of China. Mr Pan was accompanied by Deputy Consul General Ma Deyun, Consul Lyu Yanxia, Consul Shen Duchun and Consular Attache Zhu Ge.

The Association's representatives included Janice Dickson, Chairman ; Eddie McGuire, Vice President ; Peter Lindow, Edinburgh Branch Chairman ; Barry Moore, Glasgow Branch Chairman, and many other members from both branches.

From left to right, Ma Deyun, Deputy Consul General ; Mr Eddie McGuire, SCA Vice President ; Mrs Yu Zhili, wife of the Consul General ; Mr Pan Xinchun, Consul General ; Mrs Janice Dickson, SCA Chairman ; Mr Barry Moore, SCA Glasgow Branch Chairman ; Mr Peter Lindow, SCA Edinburgh Branch Chairman
(this and other photos courtesy of Consulate-General)

Welcoming the SCA group, Mr Pan paid tribute to the Association's “dedication and great contribution to enhancing understanding and friendship” between Scotland and China, both in the past and in the last few years. He also noted that 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the strategic partnership relationship between China and the UK, saying “due to the efforts and hard work by our two peoples from all walks of life, our friendship and cooperation have achieved tremendous success with so many bright spots”.

Mr Pan highlighted a number of more recent highlights in the China-UK relationship, including Premier Li Keqiang's meeting with Prime Minister Cameron in June this year ; bilateral trade of over £40bn in 2013 ; Chinese investment of some £25bn in the UK, creating over 5,000 jobs ; and the presence of 130,000 Chinese students UK-wide, as well as 25 Confucius Institutes and over 100 Confucius Classrooms.

SCA members and Consular staff listening to Mr Pan's remarks

In response, Janice Dickson, Chairman of the SCA, said the Association was honoured by the invitation to this special reception. She also noted with appreciation the invitation earlier in the year to attend the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (see our article here), and for the support and assistance provided by the Consulate-General throughout the year.

On behalf of the SCA and to mark the festive season, Janice presented the Consulate with a hamper of traditional Scottish Christmas food including cake, whisky and even some of Peter Lindow's home-made chutney !

Janice Dickson and Peter Lindow presenting the Christmas hamper to Mr Pan

The SCA members also had the opportunity to watch a film entitled 'China in transition'. This highlighted both the great strides that have been made in social and economic policy over the last 30 years, and the challenges that still face the country, not least in achieving a correct balance between economic development and environmental protection.

As Consul General Pan commented, “China is still a developing country and our GDP per capita is no match to developed countries”, adding “we have no room to be complacent, but still have a long way to go and mountains to climb before we belong to the developed world”. But he concluded, “we set out our national dream that by 2049, which is the centennial of the new China, the country will become a rich and democratic country”, adding, “we are confident that through deepening reform we will get there”.

In conclusion, Janice Dickson said, "we would like to thank the Consul-General and his staff for a most enjoyable and informative evening, and the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones".


Award for Confucius Institute at Strathclyde

The Confucius Institute for Scotland's Schools (CISS), based at the University of Strathclyde, was named global Confucius Institute of the Year on 8 December 2014, chosen from among 475 centres around the world to receive the award. It was awarded the accolade by Hanban, affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.

CISS provides support to more than 300 schools across Scotland and aims to further the teaching of Chinese language and culture.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, principal of the University of Strathclyde, commented, “more than 20,000 pupils across Scotland are benefiting from Chinese language and cultural learning activities thanks to the Confucius Institute at Strathclyde”. He added, “we equip these pupils with a global outlook and skills that will support them throughout their careers in business, industry and the professions”.

CISS was launched in June 2012 (see our news story here) and aims to support the delivery of high-quality Chinese language learning to Scotland's children.

It provides strategic direction to Confucius classroom hubs, supports teachers, promotes the benefits of learning about Chinese language and culture, and works closely with Hanban, Tianjin Education Commission (as the hubs are twinned with Tianjin schools) and the Scottish Government.

CISS recently added four more Confucius classroom hubs - taking its total in Scotland to 16, covering 21 local authority areas. The new hubs are in the Midlothian, Stirling, Shetland and Highland council areas (see our links page here for a full list).

For more background on the work of CISS, see their website.