Speech at the Reception Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between China and Ireland as well as Marking His Assumption of Office
by Ambassador He Xiangdong
2019-06-20 08:42

Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,

Good evening and welcome!

As the 14th Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Ireland, I am very pleased to join you all just over one month after my arrival in the Emerald Island, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries at this landmark place, the Convention Centre Dublin.

Since my coming to Ireland, many friends here have kept telling me that I came at a right time, which I could not agree more. It is a great honor for me to assume the post of Chinese Ambassador to Ireland when the relations between China and Ireland has reached a stage unmatched in history.

The main theme of this reception is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between our two countries. Actually, the exchanges between our two peoples and two cultures had already started long before that. The early contacts between China and Ireland could at least be traced back to two names which are related to Ireland, George Maccartney and Robert Hart. One of the greatest Irish writers, Oscar Wilde, found strong resonance and inspiration in Zhuang Zi, a great Chinese philosopher of more than 2000 years ago. In the early 20th century, Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw had built their reputation among the Chinese intellectual community.

In modern history, both the people of China and the people of Ireland went through poverty and hunger, and shared a similar experience of resisting foreign oppression and striving for national independence. The Chinese people will not forget that in 1933, when we suffered from foreign invasion, George Bernard Shaw visited China and showed the strong support of the people of Ireland for China's national war for freedom and liberation, which became a much-told story of China-Ireland friendship.

On June 22, 1979, representatives of the Chinese and Irish governments signed a Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the People's Republic of China and Ireland, marking a brand-new chapter in China-Ireland relations. In the past 40 years, under the care and guidance of Chinese and Irish leaders, and with the joint efforts of those committed to the bilateral relations, our two countries have adhered to the principles of "mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit" as stated in the Communique, and positively carried out friendly cooperation in various fields, pushing forward relations between China and Ireland to an unprecedented level of development.

High-level exchanges between our two countries are now frequent. Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, President Xi Jinping, former Premiers Zhu Rongji and Wen Jiabao along with Premier Li Keqiang have all visited Ireland. Former Irish Presidents Patrick Hillery and Mary McAleese, President Michael D. Higgins, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny have all visited China. These high-level exchanges provide solid direction for the positive development of China-Ireland relations.

Bilateral economic and trade cooperation as well as mutual investment has grown with leaps and bounds. In 1979, the trade volume between China and Ireland was only $5.15 million. As of 2018, it has exceeded $14.5 billion, nearly 3,000 times more than that of 1979. China has become the second largest export market for Irish dairy products and pork, and third largest export market for Irish food and drinks. A tremendous increase in mutual investment has been achieved. Over 400 Irish companies have invested more than $2 billion in China. Reciprocally, according to the statistics of IDA Ireland, more than 20 Chinese enterprises have invested nearly $2 billion in Ireland.

Cooperation between China and Ireland is booming in the fields of science and technology, education, along with people-to-people and local exchanges. The cooperation between the sovereign funds of the two sides to co-fund science and technology R&D has now started its second phase. The first Chinese Cultural Centre in Ireland will soon be realized. James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Riverdance have many fans there in China. We have jointly built two cooperative educational institutions and nearly 40 cooperative educational projects. There are more than 5,000 Chinese students studying in Ireland. Chinese language will be on the curriculum for the Leaving Certificate exam in 2022. The Confucius Institutes at UCD and UCC have helped Irish people to learn more about Chinese culture. The world's first Confucius Institute of Chinese and Regenerative Medicine will shortly be established at NUI Galway. Since 2018, with three China-Ireland direct flights launched, exchanges between the two peoples have become far more convenient. The number of visits between the two countries has now exceeded 120,000. In addition to the 7 twinning relations between friendship cities, friendly exchanges and cooperation between local governments have become more active. Moreover, nearly 50,000 overseas Chinese in Ireland have also made significant efforts to support bilateral relations.

Our two countries have maintained good cooperation in international and regional issues. China and Ireland both attach great importance to upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, multilateralism and the free-trade mechanism, and work together to improve global governance, whilst supporting each other in developing a more positive environment for international affairs.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my highest respect and sincere gratitude to all those who have contributed to China-Ireland relations.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

China and Ireland are different in terms of stage of development and social system, historical and cultural background, size of territory and population. Yet these differences do not hinder us from becoming a model for win-win cooperation and shared prosperity between countries. Looking back on the development of China-Ireland relations over the past 40 years, we can summarize the following important experience:

First, adhere to mutual respect and equality. Both China and Ireland insist that countries, regardless of the volume of their territory, power and wealth, are equal members of the international society. They should respect each other's sovereignty and core interests, the independent right to choose their own political system and development path, as well as each other's culture and tradition, and enhance mutual exchanges and learning, dialogue and cooperation. This is the basic principle of international relations and the practical foundation for the development of China-Ireland relations.

Second, adhere to the guiding role of high-level visits. Leaders of the two countries interact with each other in the mode of visiting friends, guiding from the top-level, determining the main fields of cooperation, and planning the right route for bilateral relations to go forward.

Third, adhere to the conformity to current global trends. Both China and Ireland are positively integrated into globalization, engaged in multilateralism and the free-trade mechanism, forging an open and inclusive foreign policy. In this way, our two countries have become good partners with shared values.

Fourth, adhere to practical partnership for mutual benefit. We have found the right path to complementary advantages, mutual development and shared prosperity. This win-win cooperation benefits both sides and consistently gives impetus for the solid development of China-Ireland relations.

Fifth, adhere to close contact between our two peoples. People-to-people exchanges hold the key to sound state-to-state relations. Chinese and Irish people share the good qualities of being honest, kindhearted and friendly. The close people-to-people exchanges underpin bilateral ties and create a solid base for bilateral relations.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. Peace and development remain the underlying trend of our times, while unilateralism, protectionism, economic hegemony and de-globalization are on the rise. Ireland and Europe are facing increasing challenges under the ongoing Brexit crisis. In this regard, China and Ireland have an even stronger need to cooperate with each other, and the importance and strategic significance of a positive bilateral relations cannot be underestimated. In this new era, our two countries should join hands to tackle together the difficulties and challenges that lie ahead of us.

We should further deepen our political communication by intensifying mutual understanding, mutual trust and mutual support on the issues of each-other's core interests and major concerns, so as to strengthen the political foundation of our relations.

We should further enrich practical cooperation. China welcomes Ireland to take an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative and is ready to deepen our cooperation in fields of green agriculture, financial services, scientific and technical innovation, etc. under the Belt and Road Initiative so as to consolidate the material foundation of the bilateral relations. China will adhere to the policy of reform and opening up and welcome Irish companies to invest in China. We also wish Ireland to offer to Chinese enterprises a steady, fair and transparent corporate environment, and expect Ireland to be a window and a bridge for China-Europe exchanges and cooperation.

We should further strengthen the close contact between our two peoples, maintain the good momentum of cultural, educational and local exchanges between the two countries so as to sow more seeds of friendship between the two peoples and bring up more successors to the cause of China-Ireland friendship.

We should further enhance coordination in international and regional issues. Facing the challenges of unilateralism, protectionism, hegemony and bullying, China and Ireland should steadily uphold multilateralism and the free trade mechanism. We should and could make efforts in global governance including poverty alleviation, climate action and sustainable development.

As a famous Chinese poet of Tang Dynasty said, "you will enjoy a grander sight, if you climb to a greater height." As China-Ireland diplomatic relations come into its fortieth year, we should take the opportunity and overcome shared challenges, to bring the China-Ireland Strategic Partnership for Mutually Beneficial Cooperation to a new height. I myself and my team in the embassy are ready to work closely with our Irish friends for a grander and brighter China-Ireland relations.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please join me in a toast,

To the friendship between China and Ireland,

And to the brighter future of China - Ireland relations,