Senior Chinese official for talks with Cowen


THE MOST senior Chinese politician to visit Ireland since prime minister Wen Jiaboa in 2004 will hold meetings today with the President and with the Taoiseach.

Li Changchun, a senior Communist Party of China official, arrived yesterday on a two-day visit, part of a four-nation tour. He has already visited Estonia and Montenegro on this trip and will go to Iran before returning to China.

Brian Cowen and Mr Li and his delegation are expected to discuss trade and investment, culture, education and agriculture.

They are also expected to sign memorandums of understanding between Ireland and China on cultural co-operation, and exchange and economic co-operation.

Mr Cowen said the Government was committed to the widening and deepening of “the hugely important and positive relationship between our two countries”.

A Chinese news website which reported Mr Li’s arrival quoted him as saying that the Communist Party and the Chinese government attached “great importance to the relations with Ireland”. According to, Mr Li said he would learn “from the host country’s experiences in promoting the economy and explore new fields and new ways to enhance mutually beneficial co-operation for the common good of both nations”.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg last week debated an upcoming summit between the EU and China. A number of MEPs criticised both the EU and China.

Socialist Party MEP for Dublin Joe Higgins hit out at European-based transnational corporations which wanted “more flexibility to reap bigger profits from their Chinese operations on the backs of Chinese workers” costing big business “only 2.7 per cent of the cost of their American counterparts”.

Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly (Ireland South) said: “I know there are issues regarding human rights, workers’ rights and North Korea etc, but it is only by engaging with countries that you can influence them. If you do not engage, then you become irrelevant.”