Ambassador Luo Linquan's article Strengthening the ties that bind China to Ireland
From Chinese Embassy in Ireland
Ambassador Luo Linquan's article Strengthening the ties that bind China to Ireland was published on March 28th in Irish Examiner. The full text of the article is as follows:
Strengthening the ties that bind China to Ireland
------ LUO Linquan, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China
China and Ireland established diplomatic relations on 22nd June, 1979. In the 33 years, the bilateral ties based on mutual respect and equal treatment have developed smoothly. The relationship has become a model of friendly co-existence for countries that have different territory sizes, social systems, and cultural traditions.
In recent years, China and Ireland have seen closer high-level contacts, wider economic and trade cooperation, fruitful cooperation on areas such as education, technology and culture, and enjoyed more active non-governmental exchanges.
According to the Chinese statistics, the bilateral trade reached US$5.87 billion in 2011, up by 8.6% year on year, and has increased by more than 1000 times since 1979. China has been Ireland's biggest trading partner in Asia for five consecutive years and Ireland has recorded surplus in trade with China for three years, with a trade surplus of over US$1.5 billion in 2011. By the end of 2011, Ireland had invested US$641 million in 241 projects in China. Although China started late in investing in Ireland, its investment is growing fast with paid-in investment already reaching US$148 million. The unique charm of the Irish culture is becoming more and more attractive to the Chinese and the profound Chinese culture is raising great interest among the Irish people. Riverdance is very popular in China and St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in Beijing and Shanghai in recent years. There are nearly 10,000 Chinese students studying in Ireland, and the 2 Confucius Institutes and several Confucius Classrooms here in Ireland provide good platforms for the Irish friends who are fond of the Chinese culture. The Chinese Spring Festival has become a festival both for the Chinese and Irish friends.
2012 opens a new chapter for China Ireland relations. Vice President of the People's Republic of China, H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping, paid an official visit to Ireland from February 18 to 20 at the invitation of Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The visit was of special significance because it was an important visit by a Chinese leader since the new Irish government was formed last March. During the visit, H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping held talks separately with President Michael D. Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett and Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke. 7 agreements or MOUs covering numerous sectors, including service trade, two-way investments, agriculture, education, technology and new energy were signed between the governmental departments, chambers of commerce and corporations of both countries. Mr. Xi also visited and chatted with a local farmer in County Clare to learn the farmer's farm and the life. He even took time out of his busy schedule to watch popular Gaelic football and Hurling matches and Riverdance, talked with the athletes and performers after the events. The visit has elevated China Ireland traditional friendship and mutual trust and transformed the sound political relations into mutually beneficial pragmatic cooperation, and been a great success.
Just one month later after Mr. Xi's successful visit to Ireland, to promote China Ireland relations to a higher level, at the invitation of the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Taoiseach Enda Kenny is now paying an official visit to China from March 25 to 29. It is his first trip to China and the Chinese side attaches great importance to the visit, willing to make joint efforts with the Irish side to ensure the success of the visit and inject a new impetus into the development of the bilateral relations.
The international situation is currently undergoing complex and profound changes. The world economic recovery remains an uphill struggle. We believe that it is in the common interest of the two countries and the two peoples to further China Ireland relations, and it is a choice that represents the trend of China Europe relations development. Both China and Ireland should have the eyes on long-term development, with the view to the general interest of China Europe relations and the general situation of the change of world pattern. The two countries should strengthen mutual respect and trust, promote complementary cooperation and achieve mutual benefits and common development.
We should firstly maintain close high-level contacts and enhance inter-agency exchanges at various levels with a view to increasing political mutual trust and cooperation in regional and international affairs. Secondly, seize the opportunities, expand bilateral trade and advance trade in services, with the China-Ireland Economic and Scientific Joint Commission fully playing its role, support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), enhance two-way investment, and develop cooperation in high technology and emerging industries, fully unlock the potential of bilateral trade, and pursue common development and bring the mutually beneficial cooperation to a higher and broader level. Thirdly, promote the people-to-people communications especially communications between the youths, encourage the cooperation between art institutions, and enhance cooperation on culture, education and technology, with a view to enhance mutual understanding and friendship.
China is a reliable friend that Ireland and other European countries can count on in addressing Europe's current debt crisis and realizing recovery. China will continue to support, in a responsible way and as its ability permits, the efforts of the EU, IMF and ECB to tackle the European debt problem, enhance policy communication and coordination with the EU, promote China-EU business, investment and financial cooperation, and join the international community in supporting Europe and the Euro zone. We are confident that Europe has the wisdom, capability and ways to overcome difficulties and make new progress.