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Former PM considers Scotland's role in $900bn Silk Road

29th September 2017

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is returning to his former university to speak at an event exploring China's $900bn initiative to stimulate economic growth.

Mr Brown is one of several international scholars and business leaders to take part in the landmark conference that will assess the potential impact of China's most significant investment since the Great Wall.

Organised by the University of Edinburgh’s Confucius Institute, the event, which takes place on 4 and 5 October, will seek to shed light on China’s so-called Belt and Road Initiative and the opportunities it offers Scotland.

The $900bn pledge by China to boost trade and stimulate economic growth is the world’s largest commercial contract. The arrival of the first freight train from Zhejiang into London earlier this year signified that the initiative has now reached the UK.

The geopolitical and cultural implications of the investment will be the focus of Mr Brown’s speech. He will explore the evolving nature of China’s political and trading relationships with the West, especially Europe and the UK post-Brexit.

Further sessions will help to outline potential benefits for Scottish companies, discuss the role of data-driven innovation and explore emerging technologies in sustainable energy.

Speakers include the Chief Executive of IBM China Chen Liming, founder of social media platform WeChat Juhong Wang and the Minister Counsellor of the Economic and Commercial Office of the Chinese Embassy Jin Xu.

The University of Edinburgh’s Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, will lead the opening discussion with Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Frank Ross and Professor Kang Feiyu, Dean of Tsinghua University and Chair of the World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities.

Professor O’Shea said: "I am delighted to welcome leading experts from China, Europe and the UK to speak at this important conference. Scotland’s strengths in innovative technologies and low carbon solutions makes it an ideal place to consider how sustainable strategies can be developed. The in-depth sessions will help audiences understand how to grasp the vast opportunities the Belt and Road Initiative presents."

Sustainable Silk Roads takes place on 4 and 5 October in the University’s McEwan Hall. It is the first conference to be held in the historic building since its £35million redevelopment, which completed this summer.

The conference has been organised in partnership with the World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities, the China-Britain Business Council and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Tickets cost £110 and are available to purchase online:

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