China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Ireland’s traditions share the same idea of connectivity, according to Thomas Bellew, head of the economic section at the Embassy of Ireland.
“Ireland is on the western edge of Europe,” Bellew said at the Ireland exhibition area at the Fifth China Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services, which opened in Beijing on Monday. “We’ve been all about connecting with people from other nations for all of our history.”
The Belt and Road Initiative is all about connectivity, he said. “We see the Belt and Road as a modern day equivalent of what Ireland has been doing for thousands of years. We love to hear other people’s stories; we love to tell our story, as well; we love to interact with other people. It’s in our blood. It’s in our history.”
Connections between the two countries are getting closer as two direct flights from China to Ireland will be launched in June.
James Kenny, China Country manager at Tourism Ireland, explained that the flights should help to raise a lot of awareness about Ireland, making it convenient for Chinese who want to visit or study there.
According to John Lynam, first secretary in charge of education at the Embassy of Ireland, there are now 3,500 Chinese students undertaking full-time education in Ireland and the number has increased dramatically in the past three or four years.
Chinese students can also stay in Ireland for an additional one or two years, “working in world-class multinational companies, which is an opportunity to practice and bring back experience to China”, Lynam said.
Noting Ireland’s strengths in such sectors as education, tourism, financial tech and green tech, Bellew expressed his willingness to bring Irish companies to China, investing in Chinese projects as Chinese firms are already doing in Ireland.
“When we invest in each other, we can come away with both of us winners,” Bellew said.
(China Daily 05/30/2018 page24)