Friday 17 November 2017

China’s Xi wraps up his only EU visit to Ireland amid promises and positivity

Taoiseach Enda Kenny meeting China's Vice-President Xi Jinping at Dublin Castle yesterday
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

CHINA’S vice president Xi Jinping today ended his trade-boosting visit to Ireland. Several agreements aimed to strengthen investment have been signed during the three-day visit, along with measures to increase services and educational ties.

Mr Xi also invited Taoiseach Enda Kenny to visit China during an official dinner in Dublin Castle. The trip is expected to take place at the end of March.

Jobs, trade, tourism and agriculture were the focus of the visit for Mr Xi and his 150-strong delegation of business leaders and government officials.

Mr Xi met President Michael D Higgins at Aras an Uachtarain ahead of talks with politicians at Leinster House.

He then attended the Ireland-China Trade and Investment Forum at Royal Hospital Kilmainham before leaving the country for Turkey.

Ireland is the only EU country Mr Xi - China's leader-in-waiting - will visit during his tour.

The Taoiseach told Mr Xi his visit to Ireland came at an important stage in the development of relations between the two countries.

Richard Bruton, Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, said increasing trade and investment activity with key markets such as China was part of the Government's plan for economy recovery and job creation.

The group arrived on Saturday after five days in the United States.

The Chinese party was briefed by management at Shannon Development business park, attended a traditional banquet at Bunratty Castle and saw the Cliffs of Moher.

He also visited a family-run dairy farm at Sixmilebridge, Co Clare, where farmer James Lynch named a newborn calf after him, and saw a demonstration of Gaelic games in Croke Park - where he kicked a Gaelic football and hit a sliotar with a hurling.

Last night Mr Xi and his delegation attended a dinner hosted by Mr Kenny and a special performance of Riverdance.

But the trip has been criticised by human rights organisations, which have called on the Government to raise China's human rights records with the vice president.

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