Either see below Gil most recent written questions to Parliament or select a category.
To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide a report of the recent visit to China by the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.
Answered by Michael Russell (23/04/2009): The First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning travelled to China this April in order to advance Scotland''s relationship with China as set out in the Scottish Government''s International Framework, and more specifically the refreshed China Plan published on the 7 May 2008. The First Minister''s and Cabinet Secretary''s visit was part of on-going programme of engagement with China and built on previous Ministerial visits by this and previous administrations. The preparation for the visit included meetings with Amnesty International and the Scottish Human Rights Commission, as well as Scottish Enterprise and other partners with an interest in China.
The visit provided the opportunity to promote Scotland as a key economic partner with a world-leading contribution in education and innovation “ a nation that is very much open for business. This will support our purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth.
The indications are that China will lead the global economy out of recession and expanding trade with such a major market can be an important contributing factor in the Scottish Government''s own Economic Recovery Plan. The visit was a vital part of realising this potential with real benefits for jobs and businesses in Scotland.
The Cabinet Secretary and First Minster, building on the achievements of Ms Hyslop and Mr Swinney''s visits last year, pursued activity framed around the Scottish Government''s key sectors:
Energy: The First Minister helped Scotland''s Sgurr Energy officially launch their ground-breaking wind measurement device into the Chinese market. The First Minister also made the keynote address to a major renewable energy conference in Beijing and met Professor Lu Yongxiang, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and one of the eleven Saltire Prize challenge committee members. In Hong Kong, the First Minister met Hong Kong Electric International, who have been invited to explore opportunities for investment in Scotland, in particular using their expertise in subsea transmission systems.
Creative Industries: The Cabinet Secretary supported the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Abertay Dundee University and Shanghai University following up from last year''s visit and witnessed a further agreement, making Peking University''s School of Software and Microelectronic Engineering an additional International Partner of the UK''s first Centre of Excellence in computer games education, Abertay University.
Financial and Business Services: The First Minister championed the long-term strengths of the financial services industry in Scotland and promoted new opportunities in growth areas such as asset management in his meetings with the Vice Mayor and the Financial Services Director-General, Dr. Fang Xinghai, and in speaking at the Sino Scottish Asset Management Forum.
Food and Drink: The First Minister officially launched the ˜Scotch'' element of The WhiskyLIVE Festival which is to run May 8-9 in China. In his meeting with the Chinese Minister of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) Mr Wang Yong, the First Minister raised the issue of securing Geographical Indication of Origin for whisky along with other areas of trade including seed potato export and co-operation in food safety. As a direct result of this meeting, it is expected that there will be rapid progress towards protecting Scotch Whisky and in developing a food safety partnership between a Scottish company and the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine Sciences.
Life Sciences: The Cabinet Secretary announced a new Modern Apprenticeship framework for life sciences in Beijing when she helped to launch the world''s first commercially available multi-articulating bionic hand by Scottish prosthetics company Touch Bionics and its Chinese distributor ENJOYLIFE Prosthetics and Orthotics Company. The First Minister attended the signing of a memorandum of understanding between The University of Edinburgh''s Centre for Regenerative Medicine, directed by Sir Ian Wilmut, and China''s National Centre for International Research in Stem Cells based at Peking University.
The Cabinet Secretary also launched a pioneering new partnership under which Chinese health professionals will learn from Scotland''s leading medical experts. The collaborative training programme between NHS Scotland, the University of Edinburgh, China''s Ministry of Health and China''s Shandong based pharmaceutical giant Asiapharm will further boost educational and commercial ties between our two countries.
Tourism: In Beijing the First Minister announced details of the ˜Scottish Prestige Golf Club'' which offers China''s 1 million golfers membership to ˜Scotland - the Home of Golf'' as a result of a new scheme encouraging them to visit Scotland and play golf at some of the country''s leading courses. He also promoted the Year of Homecoming throughout his visit, including to the Hong Kong Chambers of Commerce which have a significant Scottish membership.
Universities: The Cabinet Secretary progressed a number of partnerships between institutions in Scotland and China as previously outlined. A new venture which enables Edinburgh Napier University to provide business expertise to Scottish companies seeking to expand in Hong Kong and China was launched. The Cabinet Secretary was the first representative of an overseas delegation to meet the new Vice Minister at the Ministry for Education, Mr Hao Ping. Formal approval was secured last week for a jointly funded programme of research partnerships. The Cabinet Secretary also launched a new programme of scholarships for Masters scholars from China, jointly funded by the Scottish Government and Scottish universities.
The First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary held a number of high level government meetings. In discussion with the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Li Hui, the First Minister commended the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who has said that during his recent visit to the UK he always carried a copy of Adam Smith''s Theory of Moral Sentiments. The First Minister noted that Adam Smith prized justice as the quality above all others, that justice had the power to transform lives and transform whole nations, and this quality had an important place in China''s ongoing reform process which has already seen 600 million people lifted out of poverty. The First Minister also highlighted these issues in his public speaking engagements.
The meetings with the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of AQSIQ, Hong Kong''s Chief Executive and Shanghai''s Vice Mayor were highly productive and agreement was made upon willingness to develop collaboration in trade, investment and education. The First Minister also met President Chen Haosu of the Chinese People''s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the organisation which facilitated the Ministerial visit. Further bilateral cooperation between Scotland and China was agreed at this meeting.
The outcomes of this visit are far reaching and are part of a sustained and focused programme of engagement with China which will generate, and in some cases is already generating, long-term benefits for Scotland.
Note: This page contains both questions laid by Gil as MSP for West of Scotland (2007-2011, title starts "S3W/O") and Clydebank & Milngavie (2011-present, title starts "S4W/O")