A NEW institute aimed at boosting links between Scotland and China has been opened by Education Secretary Mike Russell.

The Scottish Confucius Institute for Business and Communication has been set up at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh after being approved by the Chinese Government's Ministry of Education last November.

It is hoped the new centre will promote business, communication and cultural links between the two nations.

Pan Xinchun, consul-general of the People's Republic of China in Edinburgh, along with minister councillor for education Shen Yang, from the embassy of the People's Republic of China in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Professor Li Weian, president of Tianjin University for finance and economics, joined Mr Russell at the opening ceremony.

Mr Russell said: "This new Confucius Centre will be a fantastic addition to Heriot-Watt University and to Scotland. Mandarin is one of the world's most widely spoken languages and it's important that people in Scotland get the opportunity to learn about China, its language and its growing role in the modern world.

"Through promoting Chinese language and culture for educational and business purposes, the institute will complement the Scottish Government's China Strategy and our aim to increase trade and educational collaborations with China through greater mutual understanding between our cultures."

Heriot-Watt University principal Professor Steve Chapman said: "The opening of the institute underlines the importance that this university places on internationalisation and global collaboration".