By Xiaolei Gu
Apr. 3 – China and Ireland announced a mutually beneficial strategic partnership during Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s visit to Beijing last week, while the two sides also signed a number of agreements to promote cooperation in trade, investment, science and technology.
Kenny arrived in Beijing with Ireland’s new “Asian strategy,” in which China is considered its primary partner, and the hope that a sound Sino-Irish relationship will cast a positive influence on Ireland’s economic recovery.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao welcomed Ireland’s new Asian strategy and proposed increasing bilateral exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in all areas, including agriculture, culture, education, environmental protection, tourism and public health
According to statistics from the Chinese government, the trade volume between China and Ireland reached US$5.87 billion in 2011, seeing an 8.6 percent increase over the previous year. China has been Ireland’s biggest trading partner in Asia for the past five years..
The new trade agreements between Ireland and China will ensure sustainable growth in trade between the two countries. More importantly for China, a strategic partnership between the two countries will facilitate trade negotiations between China and the European Union, as Ireland is willing to become a gateway for the EU to expand cooperation with China, according to Prime Minister Kenny.
In addition to Ireland, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently visited Beijing to expand the Southeast Asian nation’s economic relations with China. During Yudhoyono’s visit, the two countries signed a number of memorandums of understanding worth more than US$17 billion, with a focus on cooperation in the infrastructure development, mining and steel industries.
Yudhoyono warmly welcomes increased investment from China and Chinese participation in major infrastructure projects in Indonesia. He estimates that the two countries will achieve a bilateral trade value of US$80 billion before 2015.
China’s President Hu Jintao, in response, confirms that the two countries will promote a strategic partnership in areas including trade and economic cooperation, defense, maritime and space, education, media, tourism, and cooperation in regional and international affairs.