• MySTV

Government urged to prioritise China flights and language lessons

Direct flights and Mandarin and Cantonese lessons would improve links with China says committee.

On the radar: China Airlines' planes may soon be touching down on Scottish runways.
© Trapper Frank

Scotland should introduce direct flights to China and teach the nation's languages as it now rivals the US as an economic power, according to a committee of MSPs.

But any mention of China's "widely critiqued" human rights policy during trade talks would be "extremely counterproductive", the Europe and External Relations Committee heard during its inquiry into the Scottish Government's China plan.

External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf is heading to China for diplomatic, cultural and business engagements.

The government plan aims to increase trade opportunities for Scottish businesses and encourage more Chinese investment in Scottish industry and infrastructure.

A direct air link, more Mandarin and Cantonese language lessons and strengthening cultural ties are among the key recommendations of the committee.

Convener Christina McKelvie, an SNP MSP, said: "During our inquiry we heard that the Chinese market represents the same economic opportunities as America did 100 years ago and to neglect these would put Scotland at a serious disadvantage.

"We believe a direct air link between China and Scotland would be instrumental in increasing Scotland's business trade, as well as helping develop our profile as a tourist destination. We urge the Scottish Government to persevere in its communications on this as a matter of priority.

"There is some great work going on by the Scottish Government and its agencies to ensure Scottish companies can be introduced to the Chinese market. This is supported by ministerial visits which play such an important role in developing the relationships and open doors for businesses.

"However, we are concerned that although the plan states that its objectives are to be delivered through a combined effort by stakeholders and the Government, there seems to be a lack of engagement with some stakeholders and we have asked the Government to look at this as it is crucial to get it right."

The committee said it would welcome a more widespread teaching of Mandarin or Cantonese at all stages of education.

Scottish Development International should also investigate how to use its network of offices in China to provide greater support to companies unable to support their own office in the Asian country.

In 2011 the main export destinations, outside of the UK, were to the US and mainland Europe, but the Scottish Government also signed an agreement with the Chinese government to allow Scotland to export salmon to China that year.

The committee noted that China's human rights policies have been "widely critiqued on a global scale", yet the China plan lists respect for human rights and the rule of law as one of its four guiding principles.

It also noted the advice of Angus Tulloch, Asia Pacific partner at international asset management firm First State Investments, who said involving human rights policy in any meetings with the Chinese would be "extremely counterproductive".

The committee report states: "[Mr Yousaf] referred to Mr Tulloch's point in his oral evidence, telling the committee that the First Minister has invited Amnesty International and the Scottish Human Rights Commission to discussions on how best to progress the human rights agenda with China."

Speaking before his trip, Mr Yousaf said: "The focus of my visit is to build on the successes we have secured to date and continue promoting Scotland as an attractive proposition for investment, trade, research, tourism and cultural collaboration, in line with the priorities and guiding principles of our new China strategy.

"It is vital that the Scottish Government, our agencies and Scotland's business and education organisations do all they can to continue nurturing and strengthening Sino-Scottish relations, particularly as we pursue opportunities to generate economic growth and ultimately bring investment and jobs to Scotland."

Your report: If you have information on this or any other story, please let us know. You can send information, pictures to web@stv.tv or call us on 01382 591016.

Feedback: We want your feedback on our site. If you've got questions, spotted an inaccuracy or just want to share some ideas about our news service, please email us on web@stv.tv.

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from [the Apple store] (http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/stv-news/id369121433?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D6) and for Android from [Google Play] (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=tv.stv.android.news). Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

Join in: For debate, chat, comment and more, join our communities on the STV News Facebook page or follow @STVNews on Twitter.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.



Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.