Minister Flanagan signs agreement to boost links with China09 December 2014
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, today signed a wide-ranging agreement to boost research, education, and technology ties between Ireland and China.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will support closer ties between cities in Ireland and China, as well as provincial and county ties. Currently there are twinning arrangements in place between Cork-Shanghai and Beijing-Dublin. It is also designed to promote joint research between Irish and Chinese universities and increase cooperation in education, science, technology, entrepreneurship as well as in agricultural, cultural and design fields. As part of the agreement, exchanges between schools and youth groups from both countries will be encouraged.
Minister Flanagan is accompanying President Michael D. Higgins on his historic State Visit to China. Today, President Higgins met Xi Jinping, the President of China, after which the Presidents witnessed the signing of the MoU between Ireland and China by Minister Flanagan and Madame Li Xiaolin of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
Minister Flanagan also met his opposite number, Foreign Minister Wang Yi. They discussed the strong relationship between Ireland and China; measures to increase trade between the two countries, which currently stands at €8billion per annum as well as common approaches to tackling global issues.
Speaking from China, Minister Flanagan said:
“It is an honour to be part of the first State Visit to China since 2003, and to engage at the highest level with the Chinese government. We have received a very warm welcome and we are keen to explore ways Ireland and China can work together. In our meetings with the Chinese leadership, the President and I set out Ireland’s international priorities, and discussed how we can work with China to address global challenges such as hunger, poverty, and climate change.
“This agreement will promote and encourage the people-to-people links which are so central to both the Irish and the Chinese way of working. This builds on the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by the Taoiseach during his visit in 2012 and on our strong people-to-people links, such as the active twinnings between Dublin and Beijing, and Cork and Shanghai.
“I consider educational exchange to be particularly important. Over 5,000 Chinese students study in Irish programmes both here and in Ireland, and increasing numbers of Irish students are coming to China. Irish higher education institutions have over 160 partnership programmes in operation with Chinese institutions. These are the foundations on which future relations between our countries will be laid.”
Tuesday 9 December
Notes for Editors
- There are over 150 agreements in place between Irish and Chinese third-level institutions, and 5,000 young Chinese people study in Irish educational institutes in Ireland and China. For example, the International Strategic Collaboration Programme for China, lead by NUI Maynooth, builds research capacity between 39 Irish and Chinese institutions in the strategically important areas of ICT, biomedical science and nanotechnology, and the China-Irish Research Consortium, lead by UCD, is developing research and innovation collaborations in Agri-Food, ICT and Health.