On February 20, 2012, local time, visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met with Irish President Michael D. Higgins in Dublin, capital of Ireland.
Vice President Xi first conveyed the cordial greetings and good wishes of President Hu Jintao to President Higgins. He said that China and Ireland have similar historical experiences and development courses. The two sides harbor sincere affection to each other, which is an important foundation for the development of bilateral friendly and cooperative relations. Ireland is facing the task of restoring economic balance and development, while China is also adjusting economic structure and accelerating the transformation of development mode. The two sides enjoy great potentials and tremendous opportunities for cooperation. Xi expressed the hope that the two sides could strengthen exchanges, exploit complementary advantages, expand pragmatic cooperation in various fields and upgrade bilateral relations to a new level.
Vice President Xi said that Ireland has contributed greatly to the progress of civilization in the world. Ireland exports not only emigrants and many outstanding talents, but also valuable development experiences. Shannon Development Zone in Ireland, as the world's first special economic zone, has not only provided many countries with a reference for development, but also provided an important reference for China to set up special economic zones and promote reform and opening up. There are 10,000 Chinese students studying in Ireland. Ireland is the highest among the EU countries in terms of the number of Chinese students per capita. Ireland also succeeded in addressing the debt crisis. Xi expressed his profound admiration for the diligence and wisdom of the Irish people. In the reform, opening-up and modernization process, China pays attention to learning from the experiences and lessons of other countries while constantly summing up its own experiences and lessons. With the efforts over the past three decades and more since the reform and opening up, China has made remarkable achievements. In this process, the Chinese people have enjoyed an unprecedented level of openness and freedom. The cause of human rights in China has also seen remarkable achievements. One of the key success factors is that China has found a development path suited to China's own national conditions. China will unswervingly follow this path.
President Higgins said that he would like to say welcome 100,000 times in Irish to welcome President Xi on behalf of the people of Ireland. China represents more than one fifth of the world's population, which makes the visit significant. Ireland appreciates China's development achievements and cherishes the friendship with China. Ireland and China are both countries with ancient traditions and modern responsibilities. Facing today's global challenges, Ireland is willing to have dialogues with China on the common future of the two countries, carry out more extensive exchanges and cooperation with China and promote the continuous development of bilateral relations.