Beijing correspondent Denis Staunton on why China sees Ireland as a potential friend

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In early January, Chinese premier Li Qiang’s visit to Ireland made front page news in China, with a report in the People’s Daily accompanied by a picture of him with President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin. Other newspapers carried the report by Xinhua, China’s news agency, and the story also made the television news.

Ireland was only the fourth European country Li has visited since he became the second most important figure in the Chinese Communist Party last year.

But what brought such a powerful man to a small, peripheral European country?

While the average person in China may think of Riverdance or Westlife when they hear Ireland mentioned, Ireland appears to mean something more complex to the Communist Party leadership.

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Beijing Correspondent Denis Staunton explains why, economically and diplomatically, Ireland is of interest to China at a time when many European countries are growing more wary of the Asian superpower.

Presented by Sorcha Pollak. Produced by Declan Conlon.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast