How does one say 'is feidir linn' in Mandarin?
Published 20/02/2012 | 05:00
THE Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping may not be saying much during his three-day visit, but whenever he does speak ears prick up all around the world -- and all around the money markets in particular.
And so his thumbs-up to Ireland in a short address before dinner in Dublin Castle must have made the Taoiseach's Tian of Seasonal Seafood and Fillet of Beef taste all the more sweet.
Mr Xi addressed the anxious situation in the EU, stating "the European sovereign debt" is "a concern of the international community". But he threw his considerable political weight in behind Ireland's efforts to extract themselves from the morass.
"We are pleased to see that the Irish Government and people have stayed closely together to come through difficulties," he said, pointing out that Ireland was now registering economic growth.
"What you have done is give back confidence," he said. "We salute your efforts and congratulate you on your achievements."
He also added that the Chinese business community had the belief, "as long as there is confidence, that solutions will follow" and "Ireland and other countries in Europe have the ability, and wisdom" to find these solutions.
He also spoke of how closely China was monitoring how events were unfolding in Europe.
"China will pay close attention to and support the series of measures taken by the EU, the IMF and the ECB; and we also consider more than important in helping to address the European debt issue through the European Financial Stability Facility and the European Stability Mechanism," he said.
After hanging with heifers in the West and trying out a hurley in Croke Park, Mr Xi headed for Dublin Castle to hold technical talks with the Taoiseach on trade agreements and to officiate at a formal signing ceremony of various trade and education agreements.
And so, after an hour of private discussions, a carefully choreographed ceremony unfolded in the splendiferous Throne Room -- one of the rooms that got a major facelift last year before the queen came to call -- in which Jobs Minister Richard Bruton signed agreements simultaneously with a Chinese trade representative, while the Taoiseach and the vice president arranged themselves in front of their respective flags and watched the proceedings.
But it wasn't just the signings that went swimmingly -- for Enda's March schedule just got even more hectic. As well as a trip to Downing Street, and then a prolonged visit to the US for the Paddy's Day bash, he's also off to the Far East.
Speaking before the dinner, the Taoiseach said: "I'd like to thank Vice President Xi for his invitation to visit China in March -- I hope it's the first of many visits and should contribute to a deeper and strengthened understanding between our two countries," he said.
But it was Mr Xi who was most effusive, saying "it gives us great pleasure to see the Emerald Isle", and adding that the purpose of his visit was to bring "practical co-operation" to a new level.
He also recalled his first visit to Ireland in 2003. "At that time one Irish person said to me an Irish saying, that good things come in small packages. And we believe Ireland has so many good things to offer," he said.
Now, how does one say "Is feidir linn" in Mandarin?