, BEIJING, Mar 28 – China and Ireland declared they will forge a mutually beneficial strategic partnership on Tuesday.
During talks with visiting Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in Beijing, Premier Wen Jiabao called on the two sides to push forward bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all fields, so to make the relationship beneficial to the two peoples.
China welcomed Ireland’s moves, as part of its new Asian strategy, of considering China as primary partner, and progress would result from bilateral economic and trade cooperation, he said.
Wen raised four proposals on bolstering investment, trade in service, mechanism of scientific cooperation, and cooperation on agriculture, culture, education, environmental protection, tourism and health.
Wen said he hoped the European Union could start negotiations of an investment agreement with China at an early date, so as to protect Sino-EU investment cooperation by law.
He spoke highly of the development of bilateral ties since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1979.
China had drawn on Ireland’s experience during its development, while also offering huge market for Ireland, as China had become Ireland’s largest trading partner in Asia, Wen said.
According to the Chinese Customs, Sino-Irish trade hit 5.87 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, up 8.6 percent year-on-year.
Wen also said the country appreciated Ireland’s efforts in promoting Sino-European ties, saying China was ready to enhance mutual trust and cooperation with Europe.
Kenny said there were new opportunities to expand the bilateral ties. He said Ireland was currently carrying out a series of fiscal overhauls, as it attempts to accelerate economic growth.
Ireland was ready to become a gateway for the EU in expanding cooperation with China, he said.
Treating China as a good friend and important partner, Ireland would deepen strategic contacts with China, while cementing cooperation of mutual benefit in areas such as trade, investment, science and technology, tourism, agriculture, culture and education, he said.
Kenny also voiced adherence to the one-China policy, and reaffirmed its support for EU’s recognition of China’s complete market economy status and EU’s lifting arms embargo on China.
After the talks, the two leaders attended a signing ceremony of relevant bilateral cooperative documents.
Before the talks, Wen held a red-carpet welcoming ceremony for Kenny’s visit.
Vice President Xi Jinping also met with Kenny Monday afternoon.
Invited by Wen, Kenny started his five-day official China visit in Shanghai on March 25.