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Chinese state councilor meets N. Ireland leaders to boost cultural, educational cooperation

(Xinhua)

13:48, April 13, 2012

BELFAST, Britain, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong met Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness here Thursday to discuss cultural and educational cooperation.

Liu said Sino-British relations have maintained a sound development momentum over recent years with frequent high-level visits between the two countries, which helped to strengthen mutual political trust.

Trade and investment between the two countries have also increased against the backdrop of the financial crisis, while cooperation has been increasingly diversified, Liu said.

As China is undergoing the largest scale of industrialization and urbanization in history and adjusting its structure and methods to meet the goal of development in a scientific way, its market is maturing and expanding with more and more enterprises looking for overseas investment, the Chinese state councilor said. At the same time, she said the number of Chinese tourists and students to Britain has also increased.

Northern Ireland has a convenient geographic location, a strong industrial base and rich cultural heritage, she said, adding that relations between China and Northern Ireland are getting closer, and that there have been more grounds for common interests and more opportunities for cooperation.

Liu also said she would like to see Northern Ireland further promote itself in China and help more Chinese to learn more about the British region. She believed that deepening cultural and educational exchanges between China and Britain will promote the understanding and mutual trust between the two governments and peoples.

Upon welcoming Liu, Robinson said,"Our relationship with China has steadily enhanced over recent years, and this is bringing benefit for all our communities."

He said Liu was the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Northern Ireland since the establishment of Sino-British diplomatic ties, adding that he believed "this will be the start of many visits between our governments, institutions and citizens," Robinson said.

"We are keen to develop our cultural, business and academic links with China, and we look forward to welcoming the Chinese Artistic Gymnastics Team for pre-Olympic training in Lisburn later this summer," McGuinness said.

"The First Minister and I are looking forward to discussing areas of mutual interest with Madam Liu ahead of our proposed visit to China later this year," he added.

During her three-day stay in Northern Ireland, Liu will also visit the University of Ulster and Queen's University on Friday.

She will co-host the first meeting of a high-level mechanism on Sino-British cultural exchanges in London next week.

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