President Mary McAleese has held talks in Beijing with Chinese vice-president Xi Jingping on the first day of her official visit to China.

During her five-day trip, the president will attend the Ireland Day at the Shanghai EXPO as well as a number of business educational and cultural events.

Xi Jingping is widely expected to become China's next president.

The two held talks for 35 minutes followed by lunch and discussed economic educational cultural and other links.

Xi Jingping has previously visited Ireland to study the country's export led development model, and today Mrs McAleese extended a further invitation to him and to the Chinese President Hu Jintao.

China is Ireland’s seventh most important trading partner, and Irish agencies are hoping to promote Ireland as a marketing and service base for Chinese companies doing business in Europe.

115 Irish companies now have a presence in China, trying to take advantage of the still booming economy.

President McAleese will attend several events to promote trade, investment, and tourism.