Former deputy prime minister John Prescott visited King's College last night to chair an expert panel on business opportunities in China.
It is one of three events organized by the Confucius Institute for Scotland, targeting small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and featuring high-profile chairmen who boast personal experience of doing business with the emerging superpower.
Included in the line-up were Sir Richard Needham, deputy chairman of vacuum cleaner manufacturer Dyson; Lance Brown, vice-chairman of Standard Charetered Bank, Shanghai; and Mr Prescott.
Frances Christensen, general manager of the Confucius Institute for Scotland, said: "Our aim is to stimulate and assist businesses in developing and progressing plans to engage with China. Smaller businesses may feel that China is a market beyond their reach. However, our expert panels provide a real insight into how Scottish SMEs can exploit business opportunities in this rapidly developing market, particularly in key sectors such as tourism, food and drink, consultancy and education."
Dr Neil Munro, secretary of the Aberdeen Chinese Studies Group and senior research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, said: "China's importance to the global economy, especially in the current financial climate, cannot be overstated. It has enjoyed huge growth in recent years and is now an absolutely key market for business.
"Recent appreciation of the yuan against the pound makes China even more attractive as an export destination. Learning how to tap into this market is important for every business, small or large, and so we were delighted to welcome the Aberdeen business community to King's College."
The even was organised by the Business Advisory Group of China Now In Scotland (CNIS) – a year-long festival celebrating links between the two nations.
CNIS is the most important festival ever devoted to China in this country. Originally conceived by the business community, it has gained political support at the highest level, including Chinese Premier Wen Jia Bao and Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond.
The festival, comprising more than 150 events - attended by over 70,000 people – have been co-ordinated by the Confucius Institute since the CNIS official launch at the start of Chinese New Year in February. The festival comes to an end on St Andrew's Day. For details of the many events which have taken place and the final few events : http://www.chinanow-inscotland.org.uk/
For more information about the Aberdeen Chinese Studies Group, visit www.abdn.ac.uk/csg