• Fri
  • Aug 29, 2014
  • Updated: 1:30pm

Scotland's leader Alex Salmond seeks better ties after independence vote

Alex Salmond aims to make China a key partner if his country wins independence from the UK

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 November, 2013, 11:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 November, 2013, 3:02am

China's seemingly insatiable demand for the finest salmon is safe in Scottish hands, and there will always be more than enough whisky with which to wash it down.

So pledged Scotland's independence-seeking first minister, Alex Salmond, yesterday at the end of a five-day trade visit to Beijing and Hong Kong during which he made clear that China would become a key economic partner if the Scottish people voted to end their political union with the United Kingdom for the first time in more than 300 years.

Salmond, who is spearheading the campaign for a "yes" vote in the September 2014 independence referendum, also trumpeted what he described as a victory over British Prime Minister David Cameron by forcing him to reverse a decision to deny visas to two Chinese academics teaching in Scotland's growing number of Confucius Institutes.

Before his departure to Beijing, Salmond criticised the Home Office for the decision, branding it "ridiculous" and "deeply offensive".

In a letter addressed to Home Secretary Theresa May dated last Friday, Salmond complained that the refusal would "sabotage" a Scottish government initiative and damage its relationship with China. Scotland is part of the UK and has a devolved parliament.

In a separate letter addressed to Cameron, Salmond demanded a reversal of the decision. He wrote that he would be meeting Hanban, the Chinese government-backed agency that runs the Confucius Institutes, adding: "When asked about this … how do you suggest I explain this ridiculous policy?"

Yesterday, speaking exclusively to the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, Salmond said: "It's embarrassing for the UK to pursue such a nonsensical policy. It was a ridiculous decision. When Scotland becomes independent … there won't be a difficulty. We shall be encouraging and welcoming."

China has been a key element in Salmond's drive to boost Scotland's economy. In his fourth visit to the mainland since he was elected in 2007, Salmond met State Councillor Yang Jiechi . He led a delegation of 30 Scottish firms that signed deals worth £40 million (HK$498.5 million) and met high-level executives in oil companies CNOOC and Sinopec, two major investors in the North Sea.

The first minister said salmon exports to China had increased by 88 per cent in the past five years and denied a report in The Guardian newspaper that Scotland was struggling to meet demand.

Salmond was careful not to cross the line on sovereignty, however. Asked to comment on Taiwan and Tibet's independence demands, he said: "The referendum is an agreed process. This is the way that countries should approach such matters. The Scottish case is defined by the agreement [signed between Scotland and UK] and should not be compared with others."

Salmond, who faced criticism for not meeting Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama in 2012, said he was visiting Scotland as a religious, not a political leader.

"He was received as a pastoral leader. Our view is that you shouldn't confuse the two things," he said.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Edward Yau on another of his overseas jaunts as flop ENB chief 'usefully' visited a Scottish whiskey distillery during his Greentech trip in 2012 - unfortunately Yau did not get Salmondella
This relationship is not going to go well with Norway, which was once a big salmon exporter to China until it started antagonizing its customer.
There are hardly any wild salmon left in Scottish waters. They are almost all farmed.
Sorry but that is nonsense, there are plenty of wild salmon in Scottish rivers.
Scottish farmed salmon are kept in sea lochs and are just as tasty as wild salmon.
Nobody exports wild salmon, by definition they are only ever caught by fishing rod.
He's hardly got the best economic judgement of course. Who could forget his attempts to form a Northern European economic bloc with, erm, Iceland....
Who could forget ?
A better question is - who can remember something that never happened, all he did was praise Iceland and suggest that they were a good model and in actual fact they have recovered quickly from the banking crisis and unlike most western democracies they did not "save and revere" the bankers who caused the problems.
If you wish to slander or bad mouth Alex Salmond please try to check your facts before posting rubbish on the internet.
sudo rm -f cy
So Scotland would rather be a Chinese vassal state than a nation in the UK, it seems.
what vassal state? we are talking businss here. if cameron and gang yearns to be Obama's lapdogs, too bad.....
any visitor to scotland could see for themselves how resourceful and hardworking the scots are.
As opposed to what? Being an American one?
the best governor of modern hkg under british rule was a scot. sir maclehose. sir mac was a visionary leader, knew history and most significantly, prepared hongkong to comply with "great historical trend". i don't know if scotland will break free from england, but don't underestimate the wisdom of the scottish people.


SCMP.com Account