New bonds are being tied between China and Scotland as officials met in Edinburgh to discuss a new green energy deal earlier this month.
The visit to the Scottish capital marked the beginning of Vice Premier Li Keqiang’s four-day trip to the UK, during which he also met with Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and other Westminster representatives in London.
The purpose of the visit was to promote trade and political links between China and the UK. Business deals worth an estimated £2.6 billion were signed.
The green energy deal sealed in Edinburgh, worth £6.4 million, means that Chinese renewable energy plants would make use of technology developed in Scotland.
First Minister Alex Salmond commented: "China already has the largest deployment of on-shore renewable technology, and Scotland is a world leader in pioneering the technology and application of clean, green energy.
"This announcement is another positive step forward in strengthening Sino-Scottish links and confirming Scotland's reputation as a global leader in the development of renewable energy."
Scotland will also receive two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yangguang, as a gift. The rare animals will form part of a new conservation scheme and stand under the custodianship of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs, said: "Edinburgh Zoo has a world-leading reputation for animal conservation and I am delighted that Scotland has been chosen to take part in China's breeding programme for giant pandas.
"The agreement gives Scotland an important role in securing the future of this endangered species.
"As well as supporting China's work to protect these animals, the arrival of the pandas is expected to bring significant economic benefits for Scotland in terms of tourism, attracting hundreds of thousands of additional visitors to the zoo.
"Edinburgh Zoo has demonstrated that it has the world-class expertise to breed and care for these rare animals and this announcement reflects our continuing work to strengthen the cultural, educational and economic links between Scotland and China."
However, animal charity OneKind expressed concerns over moving the animals so far from their natural habitat, calling the project “outlandish” and questioning whether the pandas can really be called a gift, given that the zoo will pay a “substantial fee” for the lease of the animals.
The BBC reports that the giant panda project will be funded through sponsorship.
The University of Edinburgh also builds on relationships with China, and currently have several ongoing research collaborations with Peking University.
In 2010 the university set up an exchange scheme directed at students on the undergraduate MA Chinese degree programme.
Professor Natascha Gentz, Dean for China, said: “Edinburgh's partnership with Peking University already involves joint research in cutting edge areas such as stem cell science and many other links in areas including History, Law, Political Science and Chinese Studies.
”Extending our collaboration to include student exchanges means undergraduate students will be able to benefit from the world-leading research and teaching we are developing together.”