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Nicola Sturgeon holds ‘constructive’ talks during visit to China

Scotland’s First Minister met Chinese vice premier Hu Chunhua in Beijing.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets Vice Premier Hu Chunhua in Beijing (Scottish Government/PA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets Vice Premier Hu Chunhua in Beijing (Scottish Government/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has held “constructive” talks with the Chinese vice premier during her official visit to the country.

The First Minister said the discussions with Hu Chunhua had focused on strengthening co-operation between Scotland and China in the fields of trade and investment, education and culture.

Ms Sturgeon said she had also raised the issue of human rights during the meeting in Beijing.

Speaking afterwards, she said: “We had a very constructive discussion about the longstanding friendship between Scotland and China, and how we can continue to develop this for the benefit of people in both countries.

“Today I was particularly interested to explore some of the main themes of my visit – trade and investment, education and culture. I made clear our commitment to continue to co-operate closely in these areas.

“There are clearly enormous opportunities for Scottish firms to do business in China. Sectors including energy, research and innovation and life-sciences all offer significant potential for growth, and I will be working to strengthen relationships in these areas throughout this week.

“Our China strategy is underpinned by promoting equality and a respect for human rights, social values and the rule of law. This is a key part of our relationship.

“We discussed those subjects today, and also inclusive economic growth, women’s rights and children’s rights – the last of which I look forward to exploring more in my Unicef speech tomorrow.”

Ms Sturgeon is visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong during her five-day visit aimed at boosting trade and cultural links.

The Scottish Government has come under pressure to publish human rights checks carried out on any deals struck after a controversial agreement in 2016.

A memorandum of understanding was signed with two state-backed Chinese firms, which later collapsed amid human-rights concerns.

Ms Sturgeon also witnessed the signing of an agreement between Aberdeen-based Triton Marine and Engineering Consultants and China Offshore Oil Engineering Corporation (COOEC), a subsidiary of China’s third largest national oil company, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

Under the deal COOEC will provide investment over the next two years allowing Triton to expand its Aberdeen team and be able to bid for large decommissioning and wind projects.

She said: “This agreement is great news for the oil and gas industry in Scotland and for Aberdeen in particular.

“CNOOC’s investment is further evidence that Scotland is increasingly seen by international markets as a fantastic place to do business and invest.”

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