Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 17:18 UK

Minister raises concerns in China

Fiona Hyslop
Ms Hyslop raised concerns about human rights in China

China's record on human rights has been raised by Scotland's education Secretary during an official visit.

Fiona Hyslop broached the issue during a meeting in China to discuss improving ties between the two countries.

The minister was urged to cancel the trip last month by Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott due to the problems in Tibet.

But Ms Hyslop has since been backed by the human rights group, Amnesty International, which said on balance she was right to go.

The minister is on an official six-day visit to promote greater educational co-operation between Scotland and China.

Amnesty believes that engagement can provide the opportunity to push for change
John Watson
Amnesty International

The visit has been shrouded in controversy though due to the ongoing problems in Tibet.

The Liberal Democrat Tavish Scott wanted the trip cancelled although ministers rejected this saying they would raise human rights concerns during any meetings with Chinese officials.

This stance was backed at the weekend by John Watson from Amnesty International.

He said: "Amnesty believes that engagement can provide the opportunity to push for change".

Fiona Hyslop met on Monday with Wu Qidi, China's vice minister of education, as she marked the start of her week-long visit.

The Scottish Government confirmed that she took the first opportunity to raise concerns about human rights.

A spokesman added that the main point of the meeting was educational matters.

Ms Hyslop signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a collaboration in areas including the promotion of Chinese language and culture in Scotland and the development of a scholarship scheme.

A possible future collaboration is also being considered for joint research projects which could benefit the life sciences and energy sectors.

Ms Hyslop said: "This partnership formally recognises our joint desire to work together for the sake of our young peoples' education and the benefits that brings to both countries economy and society".

MSP urged to postpone China trip
17 Mar 08 |  Scotland

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