On April 12, local time, Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong met with Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in Belfast. Liu will co-host the first meeting of a high-level mechanism on Sino-British cultural exchanges in London next week.
Liu said Sino-British relations have maintained a sound development momentum over recent years with frequent high-level visits between the two countries, which helped to strengthen mutual political trust. Trade and investment between the two countries have also increased against the backdrop of the financial crisis, while cooperation has been increasingly diversified, Liu said. Both sides have seen increasing highlights in their cultural exchanges with mutual understanding and friendship between both peoples deepened continuously. The launch of the high-level mechanism on Sino-British cultural exchanges, which is of great and far-reaching significance, will surely be able to enrich the comprehensive strategic partnership between both sides.
As China is undergoing the largest scale of industrialization and urbanization in history and adjusting its structure and modes to meet the goal of development in a scientific way, its market is maturing and expanding with more and more enterprises looking for overseas investment, the Chinese state councilor said. At the same time, she said the number of Chinese tourists and students to Britain has also increased. Northern Ireland has a convenient geographic location, a strong industrial base and rich cultural heritage, she said, adding that relations between China and Northern Ireland are getting closer, and that there have been more grounds for common interests and more opportunities for cooperation. Liu also said she would like to see Northern Ireland further promote itself in China and help more Chinese to learn more about the British region, so as to contribute to the Sino-British friendship as well as the friendship between China and Northern Ireland.
Robinson and McGuinness said Liu was the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Northern Ireland since the establishment of Sino-British diplomatic ties, adding that they believed this visit will bring about important opportunities for the relations between Northern Ireland and China. China has made marvelous development achievements and enjoys important international status. There is huge potential for mutually beneficial cooperation between Northern Ireland and China. The people of Northern Ireland are keen to enhance cooperation with China in the fields of trade, investment, culture, education and tourism, so as to contribute to the consolidation of UK-China comprehensive strategic partnership.