First Minister holds Edinburgh talks with Chinese vice premier

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Nicola Sturgeon has discussed human rights with the most senior woman in the Chinese government as she arrived in Scotland for a UK tour.

Chinese vice premier Liu Yandong met the First Minister in Edinburgh, where she also collected an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh for her work promoting the teaching of Chinese language and cultural exchanges between Scotland and China.

The visit is part of the ongoing People to People programme between China and the UK, and included a meeting of regional representatives from China and the UK in Edinburgh to discuss further co-operation.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am delighted to have been able to welcome vice premier Liu Yandong and the rest of her delegation to Scotland.

“Scotland and China have a close relationship, and it is one we value.

“One of the main pillars in our relationship with China is the importance of equality and respect for human rights.

“This is a subject I spoke about during my previous visit to China and this is something we had the opportunity to discuss again today.

“China is an important export market for Scottish products, particularly food and drink, but also including engineering, pharmaceuticals and financial services.

“We have strong cultural links and I’m pleased that Scotland continues to welcome significant numbers of tourists from China.

“In the education field we have increasing numbers of Chinese students choosing to study in Scotland, and 18 of our higher education institutions have academic and research links with their counterparts in China.

“This is just one area we will be looking to build on in the years ahead.”

Madam Liu later received the degree of Doctor of Letters at a ceremony in St Cecilia’s Hall in the city.

Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “Madam Liu Yandong has played a significant role in helping foster relations between China and the rest of the world.

“Her support for the Confucius Institute for Scotland has enabled many students to gain Chinese language skills and helped China-Scotland relations in business and culture.

“It is a great privilege to present her with one of our highest honours, a doctorate of the university.”