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.