Turning to China
Sir, – In light of the growing realisation, as highlighted by Eddie O’Connor (Opinion, October 7th) that over the next decade China is likely to present more business, educational and tourism opportunities for Ireland than any other country, is it not the case that we are seriously deluding ourselves in thinking China will provide such economic deliverance unless our policy makers embrace a radical new approach to engaging China?
Bearing in mind every other country in the western world is courting China’s Yuan currency, can I suggest, for example, each Government department be directed to devise a five-year plan regarding how best to position Ireland as China’s gateway to Europe. A junior minister with a special portfolio covering China would be responsible for monitoring the plan’s implementation.
In the intervening time, while waiting for Chinese companies to make the investment decisions we see as so vital to our future, the Government should also consider practical initiatives aimed at making China market entry easier for our small and medium-sized businesses. For instance, a feasible and cost-effective approach for small and medium-sized businesses, involving a sharing of incubation office, administrative, legal, financial and logistical resources, would be the construction of a Government supported IDA-style “Irish business park” on land leased from one of many enthusiastic municipal or provincial governments in China. Such a valuable enterprise could be carried out under the auspices of a public/private partnership, with special tax breaks offered to encourage Irish businesses to establish their offices. There is a precedent – in the mid-1990s Singapore leased land from the Suzhou Government to build what is now the principal gateway to China for Singapore businesses: The Suzhou Industrial Park.
The future success of Ireland’s China engagement policy lies in embracing bold initiatives that stand out from the crowd. – Yours, etc,