Sino-Irish partnership lays foundations for future business links

Opinion: China and Ireland celebrate 35 years of diplomatic relations

Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 00:01

Mr Liu Yunshan, one of the seven members of Politburo Standing Committee of CPC Central Committee, visited Ireland last week at the invitation of the Irish Government, to build on the efforts by both the Chinese and Irish governments to cement and substantiate the Strategic Partnership for Mutually Beneficial Co-operation, which was initiated in 2012 by President Xi Jinping and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Liu’s itinerary included not only official meetings with Irish dignitaries – the President, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, but also tours and briefings that gave him and the four ministers in his entourage a flavour of the Irish way of life and what Irish culture is like. Ministers Quinn, Bruton, Deenihan, Howlin, Lord Mayor Christy Burke, and Minister of State Tom Hayes were involved; the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Bord Bia each had a role to play.

A tour of Phoenix Park revealed how lucky Dubliners are to be able to get close to nature without travelling a great distance. Guinness Storehouse sparked Mr Liu’s interest in beer brewing and the Guinness family, the latter of which rightfully claims a prominent place in Irish history. A visit to a family farm in Wicklow, which culminated in a afternoon tea with the farmer Tom Short, his wife Geraldine, and their four adorable children, impressed the entire delegation with pastoral scenery and heartwarming hospitality. Powerscourt House, Gardens & Golf Course was a window showing what is special and attractive about Ireland’s tourism. Visiting CRH Headquarters, Belgard Castle, Mr Liu was given a peek of Irish companies’ enterprising spirit, innovative capacity and social responsibility. A briefing at IDA strengthened his belief that China and Ireland can both benefit from intensified co-operation on the economic front.

Official talks at both Iveagh House and Government Buildings, covering Ireland-China relations, EU-China relations and a wide range of regional and international issues, were comprehensive, in-depth and constructive, with leaders of both countries reaffirming their commitment to the strategic partnership between Ireland and China; pleasure with the present and confidence in the future was expressed and echoed.

President Michael D Higgins concurred with Mr Liu’s view that the Sino-Irish partnership has become a good example of win-win result-oriented state-to-state relationship between countries different in size, culture, ideology and social system.

In the past 35 years, since June 22nd, 1979, China and Ireland have respected and trusted each other, adhering to such principles as equality, mutual trust and mutual benefit. Geographic distance is no barrier to enhancement of warm and friendly ties, if both governments are committed to working together as friends and partners.

Recent years have witnessed frequent high-level visits, deepening mutual understanding and increasingly vibrant people-to-people exchanges; a solid political foundation has been laid for further expanding and deepening bilateral business co-operation.

Our economies are complementary; prospects for greater business co-operation are good. China has been Ireland’s largest trading partner in Asia for seven consecutive years, while Ireland has run a trade surplus for five years. With Irish economy stabilising and showing encouraging signs of sustainable recovery, more and more Irish companies are in a position to capitalise on the opportunities created by China’s continued strides towards modernisation and urbanisation. Chinese companies are increasingly keen on seeking expansion and investment opportunities beyond China’s borders, and Irish companies, especially those that have been successful going global, are potential partners worthy of attention. Both governments should continue to make conscientious efforts to help the companies of our countries explore, identify, and grasp win-win business opportunities.

More publicity efforts ought to be taken to make Ireland’s strengths and charms better known to Chinese companies, consumers and business associations. High-level visits, including Mr Liu’s visit to Ireland, can help maintain a positive momentum for further deepening political mutual trust, bringing our businesspeople closer together and enabling them to pursue win-win results.

Having recently commenced my tenure as China’s 12th ambassador to Ireland, I am lucky to have been able to participate in each and every event of Mr. Liu’s three-day official visit to Dublin, which is a good way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and the People’s Republic of China. I am pleased to note that our bilateral relationship has never been better and that we have plenty of reasons to rejoice in the vast potential in the widening and deepening contacts, exchanges and co-operation between our nations.

H.E. Mr Jianguo Xu has been Chinese Ambassador to Ireland since April 15th, 2014. Previously he served as China’s Ambassador to Georgia, Nigeria and New Zealand.

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