Remarks by Ambassador He Xiangdong at Ireland-China Trade and Investment Seminar
2023-05-17 18:44

On 16 May 2023, Chinese Ambassador He Xiangdong gave remarks at Ireland-China Trade and Investment Seminar, hosted by HSBC Ireland and Ireland China Business Association. Full text is as follows:  

Dear friends,

Good afternoon.

It is my great pleasure to attend Ireland-China Trade and Investment Seminar hosted by HSBC and Ireland China Business Association.

During the past few weeks, "de-risk from China" has become a hot phrase in Europe, including here in Dublin. If I do not say a few words on de-risking, it seems that I am not that fashionable. I suppose all the Irish friends present here today have already assessed the risks of attending this seminar before your coming.

But when talking about "de-risking", one must first consider what and where those risks are. Here the questions come up: Is a peaceful, cooperative and open China an opportunity or a risk to Ireland?

This question is now under debate in Ireland. This might not be a bad thing, as the debate will help us get closer to fact and truth.  When we make judgment on such a momentous issue, we must turn to past for inspriation and guidance.

Recent years have witnessed a good momentum in China-Ireland trade relations. The bilateral trade volume between our two countries has hit new record for 9 consecutive years since 2014. According to Eurostat, our bilateral trade volume in 2014 was 3.7 €billion, while the figure in 2022 reached 25.3 €billion, with an average annual increase of 27%, much higher than Ireland's overall trade growth in the same period, which is 10.7%. Now China is Ireland's 4th largest trade partner, the 5th largest goods export market, the 7th largest service export destination, the largest trading partner in Asia Pacific, the fastest-growing major market and the largest overseas market for Irish pork and baby fomula. Ireland has been enjoying a trade surplus with China for 14 consecutive years.  

China-Ireland two-way investment keeps growing rapidly as well. More than 40 Chinese companies, including Huawei, WuXi Biologics, TikTok, have established their presence in Ireland. In 2015, Chinese investment in Ireland was quite limited, while in 2021, direct investment from Chinese mainland in Ireland reached 9.2 €billion, creating over 5,000 jobs.

The figures speak for themselves, and the conclusions are clear and unambiguous. China and Ireland share extensive common interests, the convergence of our views far outweighs our differences, and our cooperation far outweighs our competition. The past decade of China-Ireland strategic partnership for mutually beneficial cooperation have witnessed fruitful results in economic, trade and investment cooperation between China and Ireland, delivering both countries huge and tangiable benefits rather than "risks". 

China is the world's second largest economy, the 2nd largest importer of goods and services, the largest manufacturing country and the largest commodity trading nation. It has the world's biggest and most promising market with fastest-growing middle-income population of 400 million. If one seeks to "de-risk" from China, it will turn its back on opportunities, cooperation, development and future.

I hope the Irish business community would fully appreciate this logic, sensibly find the right answer to the question, and continuously serve as active promoters to pave a way of mutual understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation for a brighter future of the relations between our two countries.

Thank you all and I wish this seminar a success.