PUPILS across Scotland should start learning Cantonese or Mandarin at primary school as part of a long-term drive to forge closer links with China, according to MSPs.
The Chinese market holds the same economic opportunity as America did 100 years ago and Scotland would be at a “serious disadvantage” if it ignores this, a report by Holyrood’s external affairs committee has found.
The Scottish Government has a target of doubling the number of pupils gaining qualifications in Chinese language from the 2011-12 level by 2017
The report says more Scots speaking Cantonese or Mandarin is “this is the most important way to strengthen links with China and increase Scotland’s profile as a place to study and visit”.
The committee also says the development of cultural links and tourism would further support business opportunities for Scottish firms.
The report, looking at the Scottish Government’s country plan for China and international framework also calls for Scotland to have a direct air link with China.
Committee convenor Christina McKelvie said: “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.”
The committee’s inquiry focussed on the economic aspects of the Scottish Government’s refreshed country plan for China. This aims to increase trade opportunities for Scottish business in China and encourage more Chinese investment in Scottish industry and infrastructure.