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We should choose our friends wisely

Colin Donald's perceptive article on Denis Taylor's serious question about the Scottish Government's "China Plan" is most timely (International trade expert queries value of Scotland's China plan, Business, January 6).

Taylor's actual estimated benefit of 0.05% is probably reasonable. East Asia usually refers to the two Chinas, South Korea, and Japan. Leaving South Korea to one side, is it not time to ask who Scotland's reliable friends are in that region and about the benefits thus far reaped?

Since the 1980s, about 56 Japanese companies have established themselves in Scotland, showing a commitment to Scotland in the absence of any Scottish long-term commitment to Japan. Yet the Scottish Government rushes to China.

Had Scottish businesses become more seriously committed to Japan in the past, and invested seriously in Japan, this country would have had the benefit of an ally with a massive launchpad into China. Japan is the country in Asia that knows China best. Secondment of a bureaucrat to China sounds impressive. In a global perspective, alongside other east European countries with longer links to China, it is meaningless.

Stuart DB Picken

Chairman, Japan Society of Scotland

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