Scotland's International Framework: China engagement strategy

Scotland's commitment to a strong, long-term, bilateral partnership with China.

Strategic Objective 3 – Reputation and Attractiveness


We are committed to building our reputation and international attractiveness by celebrating and promoting our culture and values, boosting our export performance, ensuring that Scotland remains an attractive location for investment and building on our education research capability.

Culture, Heritage and Tourism

Cultural and heritage collaboration between China and Scotland helps to develop mutual understanding, transcend language barriers and build a relationship based on respect, trust and celebration. It can also enhance educational, business and diplomatic

Both Scotland and China are committed to promoting, preserving and widening public access to culture and heritage, with recognition of the economic benefits, as well as the positive impact that cultural engagement can have on health and wellbeing.

In 2015, a five year cultural memorandum of understanding between Scotland and China was renewed, to foster greater collaboration, best practice exchange and educational outreach in a range of areas. These include: performing and visual arts, museums and collections, archaeological research, literature, publishing, film, art and crafts, built heritage, music, software design, animation and gaming.

As Scotland's reputation in China grows, the popularity of Scotland as a destination for Chinese tourists is increasing, particularly among young Chinese travellers. Reciprocally, Scottish tourism businesses are building their understanding of the needs of Chinese visitors.

What is our long-term ambition?

  • Strong, long-term cultural and heritage co-operation between China and Scotland.
  • Greater awareness of Chinese culture in Scotland, helping Scotland to internationalise.
  • Greater awareness in China of Scottish culture, including better visibility of Scottish cultural activity in China.
  • Scotland is established as a must-visit,
    must-return destination for key Chinese tourist markets.
  • China is regarded as a key market for the Scottish tourism industry and Scottish tourism businesses have an increased understanding of the needs of Chinese visitors.

Find out about some of the organisations involved

Culture, Heritage and Tourism

  • 173,610 Chinese tourists visited Edinburgh Castle in 2017, accounting for 10.4% of total visits to the Castle (source: Edinburgh Castle)
  • Two replica terracotta warriors are in Stirling
  • Working with Scottish Enterprise, VisitScotland engaged over 400 Scottish suppliers in China-Ready Workshops
  • Cultural MoU between China and Scotland on the arts, creative industries, heritage and national collections Chinese music, theatre, dance, puppetry and circus in Edinburgh's Festivals
  • Total spend by Chinese visitors to Scotland has increased by 414% - from £7 million to £36 million since 2007
  • Historic Environment Scotland and Stirling University are working on heritage conservation with the Forbidden City's Palace Museum
  • 900 Chinese schoolchildren took part in Scottish Opera 'Warriors' workshops in China in 2017
  • The poetry of Robert Burns & the work of Muriel Spark has been translated into Mandarin
  • In June 2017, VisitScotland hosted over 150 key account meetings across 5 cities in China
  • Co-operation agreement between Edinburgh Festivals and Shanghai International Festival

Scotland's commitment to a strong, long-term, bilateral partnership with China

Education, Skills, Research and Innovation

China's 13th Five Year Plan (2016-20) emphasises the importance of education, with specific priorities that include improving standards of schools and universities, widening access to education, promoting the development of vocational education and lifelong learning, and international
co-operation in education. Scotland's global reputation for high quality education, research and skills development makes us an ideal partner for China.

Education and skills co-operation between Scotland and China can take place at all ages and stages - through schools, universities, colleges, other educational institutions and people-to-people connections.

Scotland is home to five Confucius Institutes and nearly all of Scotland's Higher Education Institutions have academic and research links to Chinese institutions in a diverse range of fields, including science, environment and creative industries.

Within the framework of Scotland's education policy, providing opportunities for Scottish young people to learn Mandarin through programmes such as the Confucius Classroom Hubs helps them to develop skills for a global mind-set and prepare them with knowledge and confidence to work with China in the future.

Scotland continues to be successful in attracting increasing numbers of international students from China, who choose to study at our world class universities. We are keen to stay connected to this alumni group throughout their future lives and careers.

What is our long-term ambition?

  • Scotland and China's education, skills and research strengths are enhanced.
  • China has an improved awareness of Scotland's strong educational reputation.
  • Scottish young people have an increased interest and understanding of China, its language and culture – through both learning Mandarin and the Scottish Government 1+2 Languages Policy.
  • Scotland is seen as a preferred country for Chinese higher education students and more Scottish students take up opportunities to study in China.
  • We contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 4 to ensure inclusive education.

Find out about some of the organisations involved


This strategy for engagement with China is clearly aligned with the Scottish Government's International Framework. The Framework is accompanied by a regular policy statement.

Find out more from some of the organisations involved

Education, Skills, Research and Innovation

  • The Edinburgh Shenzhen Creative Exchange project supports innovative companies from Shenzhen and Edinburgh
  • There are five Confucius Institutes in Scotland at Strathclyde, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Heriot-Watt Universities
  • Over 9,000 Chinese students studying at Scottish HigherEducation Institutes (source HESA stats, Jan 2018)
  • First Chinese person to study in Europe was Dr Huang Kuan at Edinburgh University in the 1850s
  • Over 270 Chinese students have been awarded Scotland's prestigious Saltire Scholarship since 2009
  • Abertay University has a partnership with China-based entertainment and education company Perfect World to share expertise in the video games sector
  • The 'father of Chinese botanic gardens' Chen Feng Huai, studied in Scotland in the 1930s
  • Since 2012, over 500 young Scots have been on immersion trips to China
  • 44 Confucius classroom hubs in Scotland
  • Strathclyde University hosts the joint international space mechatronic systems technology research lab with the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
  • Scotland's most northerly Confucius classroom hub is on the Shetland Isles

Scotland's commitment to a strong, long-term, bilateral partnership with China


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