£6.4m energy deal agreed as 'China's next leader' visits Scotland

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THE First Minister has welcomed a £6.4 million agreement to introduce renewable energy technology pioneered in Scotland into China, unveiled as the man expected to be China's next premier arrived in Edinburgh.

• Chinese vice-premier Li Keqiang met with Alex Salmond before a dinner at Edinburgh Castle last night. Picture: Getty

Li Keqiang and six Chinese ministers met Alex Salmond in the Scottish capital as part of a four-day visit to the UK.

The licensing deal has been agreed between a Sino-Scottish firm, Shanghai Huanuan Boiler and Vessel/Cochran, and Scottish company W2E Engineering.

Speaking after the meeting at Bute House in Edinburgh, Mr Salmond said Scotland's relationship with China was "proceeding apace".

The discussions included the educational, cultural and economic ties between Scotland and China.

The First Minister's recent trade mission to China was also discussed, with Mr Salmond thanking the vice-premier for his government's recent decision to give Scotch whisky legal protection in China, with a geographical indication of origin status, as well as its ongoing work to secure an export health certificate for Scottish salmon.

Mr Salmond said: "Our discussions reflected on the strong economic, cultural and educational ties that exist between our two countries and also opportunities to work together more closely on the generation of renewable energy, particularly through inward investment in major renewables infrastructure projects.

"Some of the issues we discussed are strategic and for future developments. Some, however, will be the subject of positive announcements to be made over the next few days, which will be hugely beneficial to Scotland and China. The Sino-Scottish relationship is proceeding apace."

The delegation also attended a presentation on Scotland's offshore renewable industry and visited Pelamis Wave Power in Leith.

Earlier, Mr Li, who is leading a delegation to discuss future trade, social and cultural links between the China and the UK, was met at Edinburgh airport by Scottish Secretary Michael Moore.

After private talks, Mr Moore said: "I had a very constructive meeting with vice-premier Li Keqiang this afternoon, which will build on the existing relationship between our countries.

"China and the UK are key partners in growth for the future."There are a huge number of economic opportunities which exist between China and Scotland, and I am keen to see us take advantage of our excellent trading links and create new routes to market in the near future."

Mr Moore's Labour predecessor, Jim Murphy, led a delegation to China, which helped secure guarantees on protecting Scotch whisky's status, a move that was ratified on Prime Minister David Cameron's recent trip to the Far East.

Mr Moore said: "I told the vice-premier we had already achieved much together, including the protection of Scotch whisky in the Chinese market, and that we had many areas of common interest, such as the future of renewable energy and links between our respective financial, education and tourism sectors, as part of the comprehensive strategic partnership between our countries."

The delegates include Gao Hucheng, China's vice-minister of commerce; Fu Yin, vice- minister of foreign affairs; and Yi Gang, vice-governor of the People's Bank of China. They were accompanied yesterday by Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, and Madam Tan Xiutian, the Chinese consul- general for Scotland.

Today, the delegation will meet Mr Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in London.

Tied interests

First Minister Alex Salmond and China's vice-premier, Li Keqiang, sported Chinese-Scottish tartan ties when they met in Edinburgh.

The ties were launched in 2006 and designed by the Strathmore Woollen Company following an initiative by China's Consul General in Edinburgh.

Mr Keqiang was issued with his by the consulate in Scotland where an official supply is kept for Chinese guests visiting Scotland.