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Bilateral Relations between China and Ireland
(2012-07-28)

Bilateral Relations between China and Ireland

I. Political Relations

The bilateral relations between China and Ireland have developed smoothly ever since the two countries signed the Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations on 22 June 1979 and exchanged ambassadors in 1980. This can be best reflected by frequent exchanges of high-level visit. Main visits to Ireland by the Chinese side include those by Minister of Health Cui Yueli in May 1983, Minister of Culture Zhu Muzhi in May 1985, Minister of Agriculture He Kang in July 1985, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Zheng Tuobin in May 1986, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Xueqian in May 1986, Minister of Civil Affairs Doji Cering in October 1994, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Wu Yi in April 1995, Vice Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Qian Qichen in October 1995 , Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee Tian Jiyun in March 1996, Vice Premier Li Lanqing in April 2000, Premier Zhu Rongji in September 2001, and Vice Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee Ye Xuanping in October 2002, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in March 2004, Premier Wen Jiaobao in May 2004, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Li Changchun in September 2010, Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee Wang Zhaoguo in June 2011, Member of the the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Zhang Gaoli in September 2011, Mayor of Beijing Guo Jinlong in September 2011, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Wang Gang in May 2012.

Main visits to China by the Irish side include those by Minister for Foreign Affairs Gerald Collins in October 1982, Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism Frank Cluskey in May 1983, Minister for Health and Social Welfare Barry Desmond in September 1983, President Patrick J. Hillery in May 1988, Minister for Tourism and Trade Charlie McCreevy in April 1993, Attorney General Harry Whelehan in March 1994, Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dick Spring in September 1994, Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources Michael Woods in November1997, Minister for Foreign Affairs David Andrews in February 1998, Ahern Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs Dermot Ahern in June 1998, Speaker Seamus Pattison in July 1998,Taoiseach Bertie September 1998, Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Mary Harney in September 2000, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands Ms. Sile de Valera in January 2001, and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell in March 2003, President Mary McAleese in October 2003.

The first meeting between Chinese and Irish heads of governments after the establishment of diplomatic relations took place in November 1996 when Premier Li Peng met with Taoiseach John Bruton at the World Food Summit (Rome, 1996) and the second meeting as such was between Premier Zhu Rongji and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at London's Asia-Europe Summit Meeting in April 1998. During his visit to China in September 1998, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern met with President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji. Premier Zhu Rongji and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern met again during Asia-Europe Summit Meeting at Seoul in October 2000.

The Vice President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, paid an official visit to Ireland from February 18 to 20, 2012 at the invitation of Taoiseach Mr. Enda Kenny. Taoiseach Mr. Enda Kenny paid an official visit to China from March 25 to 29,2012 at the invitation of the Premier of the State Council Mr. Wen Jiabao. China and Ireland declared establishing a strategic partnership for mutually beneficial cooperation in 2012.

II. Economic and Trade Cooperation

Although small in size, the Sino-Irish bilateral trade volume has been growing very fast. Statistics from China's General Administration of Customs show that when the two countries established diplomatic relations, the trade volume was only US$6.90 million. According to China’s statistics, the bilateral trade amounted to 5.87billion US dollars in 2011. China has ranked No.1 among Ireland's Asian trade partners for 5 successive years and Ireland has enjoyed a trade surplus with China for 3 years. By the end of 2011, Irish investment projects in China totaled 241, with contracted funds of 641 million US dollars. The Chinese accumulated investment to Ireland has reached 148 million US dollars.

China mainly exports to Ireland converter, spare parts of household appliances and radio communication equipments, clothes, medicine, ships, etc. China imports from Ireland refrigeration equipments, medicine, wool, spare parts of internal-combustion engine,major parts of integrated circuit and microelectronic products , etc. Until now, six sessions of the China-Ireland Joint Commission on Economic, Industrial, Scientific and Technological Cooperation have been held according to the Agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on Economic, Industrial, Scientific and Technological Cooperation signed in 1986. The Irish Trade Board ( now Enterprise Ireland ) set up an office in Shanghai in early 1998.The two countries signed "Agreement on Civil Transport "in September, 1998,"Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation "in April,2000 and "Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation" in September, 2000.

III. Cultural and Educational Exchanges

China and Ireland signed the Agreement on Cultural Exchanges in 1985,whereas their cultural links are yet to be further strengthened.Inter-government educational exchanges between the two countries by farare limited with one scholarship exchanged each year. Nevertheless, recentyears have seen a growing number of Chinese students going to Ireland forstudy on a self-sponsored basis. By 2011, the number of Chinese students in Ireland is over 10,000 estimatedly. China and Ireland initiated the Agreement on Education Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Ireland in October 2000. At present there are two Confucius Institutes and several Confucius classrooms in Ireland.

IV. Important Agreements and Documents

1. Agreement on Cultural Cooperation between the Government of thePeople's Republic of China and the Government of Ireland signed by China'sMinister of Culture, Mr. Zhu Muzhi and Ireland's Minister for ForeignAffairs, Mr. Peter Barry during Mr. Zhu's visit to Ireland in May 1985.

2. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Ireland on Economic, Industrial, Scientific and Technological Cooperation officially signed by the two countries during the visit to Ireland by China's Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation , Mr. Zheng Tuobin in May 1986.

3. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Ireland Relating to Civil Air Transport signed by China's Vice Minister of General Administration of Civil Aviation, Mr. Shen Yuankang and Ireland's Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr. Tom Kitt during the visit to China by the Irish Prime Minister, Mr. Bertie Ahern in September 1998.

4. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Ireland for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income officially signed by China's Ambassador to Ireland, Zhang Xiaokang and Ireland's Minister of State for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Tom Kitt during the visit to Ireland by Vice Premier Li Lanqing in April 2000.

5. Agreement on Scientific ane Technological Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Ireland signed by China's Minister for Science and Ireland's Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Mary Harney during Harney's visit to China in September 2000.

6. The Agreement on Education Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Ireland initiated by China's Amassador to Ireland and Ireland's Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science in Dublin in Octobor 2000.

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