Irish president says relationship with China has "bright future"

09:52, June 16, 2010      

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Irish President Mary McAleese said in BeijingTuesday she believes the relationship between Ireland and China "has a very bright future."

McAleese, who came to China to attend the Shanghai World Expo's Irish National Pavilion Day on June 17, made the remarks in a speech on Ireland-China relations at the Renmin University in Beijing.

China and Ireland in June 2009 celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Last year also marked the 10th anniversary of Ireland's Asia Strategy, which has China at its heart.

"The 30 years have seen great economic and social developments in both countries, and also the development and maturing of our bilateral relationship," McAleese said.

She said the bilateral relationship has widened and deepened to encompass not only intensified political and trade relations, but also a blossoming of exchanges and relationships in areas such as education, food and agriculture, tourism, and investment.

By any standard trade between Ireland and China is a remarkable success that continues to grow strongly, she said, pointing out that the number of Irish companies with a permanent presence in China has tripled in the last five years.

The two nations also enjoy strong growth in cultural and human exchanges, McAleese said, noting that Ireland is home to two Confucius Institutes and that there has been a surge of interest in Ireland in studying Chinese.

McAleese spoke highly of China's reform and opening up policy and expressed appreciation for "the extraordinary efforts by the Chinese government to ensure effective economic stimulus in the wake of the international financial and economic crisis of 2008."

"As we look to the next phase of our bilateral relationship, I am struck by the changes in China even since my last visit here seven years ago, and these changes are intensifying," she said.

McAleese said there is no doubt the Special Olympics of 2007, the Beijing Summer Olympics and Paralympics of 2008, and the Shanghai Expo in 2010 have opened new and exciting windows for the world into China.

It is clear China's economic and social model continues to develop, she said.

"As China adjusts its economic model to focus more on technologically sophisticated products, I see great scope for us to enhance our cooperation in areas where Ireland has relevant expertise such as education, culture, software and high technology, biotechnology and the life sciences, environmental matters, food, agriculture and animal husbandry, to name but a few," she said.

"Even though our two countries are separated by a great geographical distance, divergent cultural and historic experiences and perspectives -- while China is very big, Ireland is very small -- in reality there are no barriers to a successful and collegial relationship," McAleese said.

Such a relationship between peoples and nations are the guarantee of a world of friendly, peaceful and fair nations, she said.

McAleese arrived in China Sunday and is scheduled to leave Beijing for Shanghai on Wednesday. During her stay in Shanghai, she will attend the activities for the Irish National Pavilion Day and tour the Irish and Chinese pavilions.

Source: Xinhua


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