Taoiseach in line to lead trade delegation to China
China is spending billions on infrastructure projects from Beijing to Europe, writes Wayne O'Connor
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is now looking at leading an Irish trade delegation to China next year.
The news comes in the wake of the government's decision at Cabinet during the week to confirm Irish membership of the Asian Investment Bank, which is led by the Chinese.
Separately in Beijing on Thursday, China's first vice-premier in charge of the economy, Zhang Gaoli, spoke of his admiration for Ireland. He made his remarks at an event in the Great Hall of the People.
Zhang is in charge of China's ambitious Belt and Road initiative where billions is being spent on infrastructure projects from Beijing to Europe - broadly along the region of the ancient Silk Road.
The decision on Varadkar leading the trade mission will be made soon.
The Taoiseach is also known to want direct flights out of Dublin to Beijing. A new direct route to Hong Kong has just been announced.
At the event in the Great Hall of the People Zhang spoke to more than 300 media representatives, including Independent News & Media editor-in-chief Stephen Rae, about progress in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The economic minister said China was quickly cutting back on overproduction and instead focussing on technological advances.
The vice premier invited Rae to speak about developments in Ireland and Europe and later remarked that he was impressed with Ireland.
Earlier in the city of Dunshuang, Rae was among a number of keynote speakers at a digital and print media conference.
The speakers included Robin Li, co-founder of search engine and payments giant Baidu; Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Holding Group; Guy Zitter of the Daily Mail & Group Trust; Dai Wei, co-founder at Ofo; Jose Vera, president of Agencia EFE, Spain; Yang Zhenwu, president of the People's Daily; and Otis Bilodeau, senior executive editor of Bloomberg.
Next month, at the Great Hall of the People, the Chinese Communist Party will hold its once-every-five-years leadership reshuffle that will serve as a test of President Xi Jinping's power.
About 2,300 delegates, including senior officials, will meet in Beijing for a party congress on October 18.
They are expected to confirm Xi for a second five-year term and to appoint a new cohort of officials under him.
Xi, already one of the most influential Chinese leaders in decades, is likely to emerge from the meeting even more formidable.
As president, he has reasserted China's power in Asia, restructured the military and led a relentless anti-corruption campaign that has ensnared scores of low-level officials and political enemies.
Now, Xi is poised to win an even broader mandate putting close allies in key positions. He may also defy the standard script and lay the groundwork for extending his tenure by delaying the designation of a successor.
Sunday Indo Business