First Minister Rt Hon Peter D Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA today arrived in Beijing to strengthen government to government relations and to further develop trade, investment, cultural and university links.
The First and deputy First Ministers met Madam Li Xiaolin, President of Chinese Peoples Association for Friendship and Foreign Countries, in Beijing.
Speaking on the first day of the visit the First Minister said: “Just over a year ago we had the pleasure of hosting Vice President Madam Liu and her colleagues to Belfast. During the visit we opened the Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster and signed a number of partnership agreements with Queen’s University Belfast.
“Following the visit of Madam Liu our relationship with China has grown stronger. This week we will talk to key Chinese government departments to explore how we can further develop existing links.
“This year we are hosting the World Police and Fire Games and 200 competitors from China are already registered to participate, we hope many more will visit and bring their families for what will be a very enjoyable experience.”
The deputy First Minister said: “We are encouraged with the growing relationship we have with China and we hope through our series of meetings in Beijing we will be able to identify more mutually beneficial areas of work. I hope we will see more exchanges between our young people and partnerships between our universities in the future.
“This is a significant year for the north of Ireland with my home city of Derry~Londonderry hosting the year-long City of Culture Programme. There will be a feast of cultural events, ranging from traditional Irish and Scots-Irish music and dance to theatre and the Turner Art Exhibition. We hope to see many of our friends from China visiting us over the coming months and years, to study, do business and to enjoy the experience.”
The China market is worth in excess of £110 million in terms of exports by Northern Ireland companies.