On February 20 local time, visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met with Sean Barrett, chairman of Dail Eireann, the lower house of parliament, and Paddy Burke, chairman of Seanad Eireann, Ireland's upper house of parliament.
Xi Jinping conveyed the cordial greetings and good wishes from Chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress Wu Bangguo. He said the purpose of his current visit to Ireland is to further deepen bilateral traditional friendship, strengthen pragmatic cooperation and push bilateral ties to a higher level. "China and Ireland enjoy a long friendship with mutual respect. Both countries share common characteristics in attaching importance to education, agriculture and people's wisdom. China-Ireland ties continued to maintain the good momentum of steady growth in 2011," Xi said, adding that China has been Ireland's biggest trade partner in Asia for five continuous years. Bilateral cooperation and exchanges in the educational, cultural and other areas are also expanding. Xi noted that the development of relationship between China and Ireland shows that divides on cultural tradition, size and social system are not an unbridgeable gap between the East and the West. As long as both sides treat each other with sincerity and goodwill basing on the spirits of equality, mutual trust and mutual benefit, they can transcend social systems and ideological differences, and become good friends and good partners. China cherishes the friendly relations with Ireland, and hopes to further deepen bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields and deepen understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
Parliamentary cooperation is an important part in bilateral ties, said Xi, adding that, for years, Ireland's parliament has not only played an important role in the country's political life, but has also been an important driving force for the development of China-Ireland relationship. Ireland's parliament has always been supportive to the one-China policy and the development of China-Ireland relations, which China appreciates. He hopes the two parliament leaders will continue to exert influence and push the Irish government, parliament and people from all walks of life to increase understanding of China and expand cooperation with China. He also hopes the two legislatures will make full use of China-Ireland Friendship Group as a platform to strengthen exchanges. Xi believes under the care of the two speakers and other Irish leaders, China-Ireland relations will have bright prospects.
Barrett and Burke, on behalf of the lower and upper houses of the Irish parliament, extended warm welcome to Vice President Xi for his visit and spoke highly of the great significance of the visit to bilateral ties including the exchange and cooperation between the legislative bodies of the two countries. While mentioning China's great achievements made in the past 30 years, Barrett said Ireland has been moving towards knowledge-oriented economy during the past dozens of years and people of both countries are closely connected by common developing stories and long tradition of civilization. Moreover, Burke spoke highly of the contribution made by Chinese Irish people to Ireland's economic and social development and the friendship between the two countries, adding that he hopes Ireland and China could further promote cooperation under new circumstances to inject new vitality into bilateral ties.