Chinese Accolade a ‘Special Honour’ for BusinessmanNeil Hardie
Businessman Dave Valentine has been honoured by the Chinese with which he pioneered Angus links a quarter of a century ago.
Later this month the former Angus Council assistant chief executive and head of economic development will be made an honorary citizen of Shandong.
The accolade is the highest any provincial government in China can bestow on a foreigner.
And Mr Valentine has called for more engagement to help break down the “fears and misunderstandings” around developing ties with the nation.
Mr Valentine, from Forfar, said: “I feel privileged and grateful to receive this special honour.
“It is a huge milestone on the bridge that links Scotland and China and is a welcome sign of encouragement for my personal China journey.
“The governments of Shandong and Scotland have already developed significant educational, trade and cultural links.
“Strengthening these will bring even greater mutual benefits.
“I believe more engagement and deeper insights are needed to combat the growing fears and misunderstandings that so often dominate thinking in today’s complex and conflicting geopolitical world.”
In 1996, Mr Valentine initiated the Angus in China trade programme through his council role.
Three years later it saw the signing of a sister agreement between the county and the city region of Yantai.
He retired from local government in 2012 to focus on developing his own business interests as well as building stronger trade and educational links between Angus and Yantai and Scotland and Shandong.
Mr Valentine received the MBE in 2013 for services to local government and the local community.
At his investiture, the Queen let him know she was aware of a twinning link he created in 2006 between Shandong’s famous Penglai Pavilion and Glamis Castle – the childhood home of the Queen Mother.
Since 2016 he has represented Scottish Chamber of Commerce in the role of international trade ambassador for China, organising reciprocal visits, trade delegations and collaborations between businesses and educational establishments.
More recently he revealed a project to ship a complete whisky distillery system manufactured in Moray to Inner Mongolia.
The businessman also owns Simpson’s of Carnoustie – the world’s second-oldest golf shop.
Through that he is working with Beijing partners to meet the country’s burgeoning demand for heritage golf items. And the distinctive colourful umbrella-roofed shop has welcomed Chinese TV crews to shoot footage for broadcast to a billion-strong audience.
Mr Valentine added: “My Chinese journey so far has taught me that links between our two countries are more productive and long-lasting when facilitated through personal ties and friendships.”
Edinburgh-based Chinese Consul General Ma Qiang congratulated Mr Valentine on the honour.
“He deserves to win this award for his unremitting efforts and substantial contribution in this regard,” he said.
“I look forward to seeing more people inspired by David as well as himself make new contributions to China-UK relations.
“The Chinese Consulate-General in Edinburgh stand ready to support as best as we can.”