China's Vice President visits Ireland

Sunday 19 February 2012 10.15
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Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore greets Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore greets Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping attends a banquet at Bunratty Castle
Xi Jinping attends a banquet at Bunratty Castle

The Chinese Vice President has begun a three-day visit to Ireland today, saying that he aims to deepen mutual friendship and take bilateral relations forward.

Xi Jinping brings a 150-strong Chinese delegation of business leaders and government officials.

Mr Xi landed at Shannon Airport at 4.15pm.

He was greeted by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who said that the visit was significant and would lead to increased trade with China.

The first stop in his visit was the Shannon Development, which has strong links with China.

He was given a gift of bog bark and watched a presentation in mandarin of the business organisation's activities.

The day finished with a dinner at Bunratty Castle, described as a traditional medieval banquet of lentil soup, roast loin of pork and lemon tart along with entertainment.

More than 100 people were there including Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte and Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, along with local TDs from Clare.

Trade with China is already worth €8bn per year and the Government hopes to get a major boost from this trip securing investment and enticing China to use Ireland as a gateway for European trade.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that the visit by the Chinese Vice President was primarily about trade and understanding.

Mr Kenny has said both he and the Tánaiste would raise the question of what he described as China's improving response to human rights with the Vice President.

Tomorrow the focus moves to agriculture and showcasing Ireland as a tourist destination.