Nicola Sturgeon told to avoid another bogus China deal

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Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to avoid another dud business deal with China as she prepares to travel to the Far East next month.

The First Minister was also pressed by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie to raise individual cases of abuse identified by Human Rights Watch during the trip at First Minister’s Questions yesterday.

Nicola Sturgeon will travel to China next month. Picture: John Devlin

Nicola Sturgeon will travel to China next month. Picture: John Devlin

Mr Rennie highlighted the fall-out from the Scottish Government’s controversial memorandum of understanding with two state-backed Chinese firms in 2016, which collapsed amid human-rights concerns.

At First Minister’s Questions, Mr Rennie called for reassurances the human-rights record of companies Ms Sturgeon is due to meet with on her trip had been checked.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I’ll speak up for human rights in China as I did on my last visit to China. I will do the same on this visit to China.

READ MORE: £10bn China deal collapses over ‘hostile’ Scots outcry

“I bow to nobody in my determination to play my part internationally in promoting human rights across the world and I would hope that that was something that would unite everybody across this chamber.”

The First Minister said she would also speak up for Scottish “companies, jobs, tourism and food and drink” during the trip.

Two years ago the controversial £10 billion investment deal between the Scottish Government and China was axed following an outcry about the secrecy surrounding the deal.

The two Chinese companies involved in the deal, SinoFortone and China Railway No 3 Engineering Group (CR3), withdrew from a Memorandum of Understanding they struck with the First Minister in March 2016.

The episode only came to light after details of the deal were reported in the Chinese press with no formal announcement made by the Scottish Government at the time.