FM: Scotland and China have 'different perspectives' but 'common challenges'

Scotland and China will inevitably have "different perspectives" on some issues but are also facing "common challenges", Nicola Sturgeon will say.

The First Minister, who has already raised the issue of human rights during her trip to China, will use a speech in Beijing to highlight how both nations are working to tackle poverty and improve life for children.

The speech, before an audience of policy makers and academics in Beijing, comes after Ms Sturgeon had a "constructive discussion" with Chinese vice premier Hu Chunhua.

The address is part of a joint Scottish Government and Unicef event, hosted by the Chinese Peoples Association for Friendship of Foreign Countries, as part of a five day visit which will also take her to Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The First Minister will say: "China and Scotland will inevitably sometimes have different perspectives and different starting points but we have a strong friendship and partnership, as I have seen throughout my visit here, and we also share many common interests and common challenges.

"We also both recognise that nothing is more fundamental to our future success than the support and care we provide for our young people.

"We know that by tackling poverty, by promoting education and childcare, and by recognising and strengthening children's rights, we can meet our moral obligations while laying the foundations for future prosperity and wellbeing."

The Scottish Government is using the 2018 Year of Young People to consider how it can strengthen children's rights, she will say, stressing the "government must take steps to support and cherish every child".

And she will tell how work to improve the care system for vulnerable youngsters is "one of the most important responsibilities a government can have".

Children who can not be looked after by their parents not only "need the best possible support" but also "perhaps most fundamentally of all, they need to know that they are cared for and loved", she will add.

With a review into the care system being carried out Ms Sturgeon is meeting looked after children, with the First Minister to says this is "one of the ways in which we are ensuring that children themselves have a say in decisions which will affect them".

She will also speak about China's efforts, and will say: "President Xi has pledged to eliminate absolute poverty by 2020. That work on poverty reduction, and addressing regional imbalances, will make a big difference to children and families.

"And at last year's 19th National Party Congress, President Xi also gave strong indications that children will be a priority area for China after 2020.

"As Unicef and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries pointed out last year - support for young children will be vital for China in the years ahead.

"As your population ages, and as economic growth moves more and more towards a knowledge-based economy, it becomes ever more important to ensure that everyone can fulfil their potential."

Rana Flowers, Unicef representative to China, said: "It is vital that we promote the rights and well-being of every child here in China, in Scotland and globally.

"We are stronger for our partnerships with governments and for our shared commitment to prioritising children and young people.

"We are delighted to see that same partnership and commitment between the Scottish Government and Unicef colleagues in Scotland to advance progress for every child."

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