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Chinese visit will provide boost for business

Several lucrative business and Government contracts are due to be signed with China next week when Li Keqiang, its vice premier, visits the UK.

Mr Li begins his four-day trade mission with a trip to Scotland tomorrow, when First Minister Alex Salmond will host a lavish state banquet at Edinburgh Castle.

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Diplomatic sources made clear the visit of Mr Li, who will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation of 50 Government officials and 100 business leaders, is viewed as important to increasing Britain’s trade with China.

China’s economy is forecast to grow by 10.5% this year and has been responsible for one-third of the world’s growth since 2001.

The country is predicted to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy by 2050.

Underscoring its growing economic importance, Prime Minister David Cameron led the UK’s largest ever trade delegation to China last month.

Mr Salmond visited the country twice in each of the last two years to promote Scottish enterprise.

Scotland, according to Whitehall insiders, is a popular destination for Chinese leaders: the last to visit two years ago was then vice premier Wang Qishan.

Next year, when the Chinese Government is due to undergo a transition of power, the current vice premier is expected to take over as premier from Wen Jiabao.

Tomorrow Mr Li, accompanied by six Chinese ministers, will hold separate talks with Mr Salmond and Michael Moore, the Scottish Secretary, before visiting the Pelamis wave energy project in Edinburgh.

Much of the bilateral talks will focus on Scotland’s renewables and low-carbon energy industry.

Mr Salmond said: “It is important the Scottish Government, our agencies, businesses and educational organisations continue to do all they can to advance our relationship with China, particularly as we pursue every opportunity to build sustainable economic growth across Scotland.

“I am delighted the vice premier will begin his state visit in Edinburgh.

“China already has the largest deployment of on-shore renewable technology and Scotland is a world leader in off-shore energy.”

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