Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture trip to China: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

1. All briefings, notes taken and correspondence sent and received by the Scottish Government about Angus Robertson’s trip to China in November, between September 1 2023 and the date of this FOI.

2. An itinerary of Mr Robertson from the trip, including minutes and notes taken at meetings and briefings prepared for the meetings.

3. Full cost and expenses from his trip to China.

4. Has the government undertaken a strategic audit of how much influence and reach China has in Scotland and if so could you supply this?

  • if this has not been done, why not?

5. How many events did the Scottish Government host/pay for during his trip to China and full cost of these to the public purse, including a breakdown of these costs?

6. Any discussions the Scottish Government has had with Police Scotland, including the Chief Constable Jo Farrell and the Scottish Police Federation, about her trip home in a police car on October 20, including correspondence sent between yourselves and them, briefing notes and minutes from any meetings or phone calls.


In response to question 1, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. Under Section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. For example, you could specify the subject matter(s) or the stakeholder(s) you are interested in correspondence between as this would allow us to limit the searches that would be require to be conducted. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on his website at:

With regards to question 2, I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested, please find enclosed the information at Annex B of this response. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under s.32 (international relations) and s.38(1)(b)(personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply is explained in Annex A to this letter.

In response to question 3, Ministerial engagements, travel and gifts received are routinely and proactively published in line with the Ministerial Code. This includes details of the costs incurred by ministers for international visits. Therefore, this is a formal notice that Section 27(1) (information intended for future publication) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption allows public authorities to refuse to disclose information if they already plan to publish it within the next 12 weeks. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

With regards to question 4, the Scottish Government’s approach to international relations and engagement with countries including China is set out in the Global Affairs Framework, published in May 2022 (Global Affairs Framework). The Minister’s visit was in support of the Scotland in China Network’s strategic objectives for 2023/24 and to strengthen our political and economic, cultural and education, and social relationships with China in keeping with our values.

In relation to question 5, please see below details of the events held and supported by the Scottish Government and the costs incurred:




Fri 24 Nov

Alumni Scottish Connections Event


Sat 25 Nov

St Andrew’s Ball


Mon 27 Nov

Kunming Botanic Garden
Climate and Biodiversity Dual Crisis – Event


Tue 28 Nov

Alumni and Global ScotsScottish Connections Reception




Total £16,014.96

In response to question 6, please find enclosed the information in scope of your request at Annex C of this letter. A small amount of information has been exempt because exemption s.38(1)(b)(personal information) of FOISA applies to that information.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI 202300389354 - Information Released - Annex A
FOI 202300389354 - Information Released - Annex B
FOI 202300389354 - Information Released - Annex C


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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