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Ireland-China relations: Where are we now and where is it going?

The next part of The Good Information Project from The Journal will look at Ireland’s relationship with China.

CHINA’S RISE TO superpower status is being closely watched by western nations eager to maintain and increase their trading relationships – particularly Ireland.

Similar to other small nations trading with Beijing, we’ve so far been careful not to rock the boat when it comes to issues concerning China’s human rights records, its position on Hong Kong and Taiwan, and its increasingly aggressive stance on the world stage.

International pressure against China over Xinjiang – where it is widely recognised that human rights abuses are being perpetrated on the Uighur population – continues to gain traction, and so far Chinese authorities have refused to allow diplomats or independent investigators to look into allegations in the region.

The Chinese Communist Party (CPC) views of the matter are reflected by the Chinese Embassy in Ireland which regularly alleges that western (including Irish) media are misrepresenting China through what it calls the “discourse hegemony” of the US.

Whatever the narrative, disagreements over what is happening in Xinjiang are already impacting future trade. The EU Commission recently suspended efforts to ratify the EU-China investment agreement after a volley of tit-for-tat sanctions between Beijing and Brussels.

China is Ireland’s largest trading partner in Asia, but will the rising backlash against what is happening in Xinjiang province change public perceptions to the point of forcing Ireland’s hand?

What is China’s footprint in Ireland like?

And will Ireland’s seat on the UN Security Council help it flex its muscles?  

We’ll look to answer these questions along with many others, as we look at the future of Ireland and China’s relationship as part of TheJournal’s Good Information Project. 

We want to take a factual look at Ireland and the EU’s relationship with China as the US continues its competitive approach with its perceived rival. And as China looks to continue its global diplomacy outreach, we will examine trade links and how they might expand or contract in the future. 

But as China inches toward becoming the world’s largest economy within the next decade, we also want to find out: who’s telling the story?

The international press presence in China has been decimated in recent years. One of the most recent departures was Irish journalist Yvonne Murray and her husband, BBC correspondent John Sudworth. Press freedom groups say space for reporters to operate in China is increasingly tightly controlled, with journalists followed on the streets, suffering harassment online and refused visas. 

Irish opinions of China are also being shaped by the ongoing detention of Dublin businessman Richard O’Halloran in Shanghai.

Exit bans are lawful in China and the treatment of O’Halloran will also be a major concern for people looking to do business with Beijing in the future. 

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Of course, China and Ireland’s relationship runs deeper than trade. The Chinese-Irish community has flourished since the earliest ethnic Chinese migrants arrived from the 1950s onwards.

And we also want to hear your ideas: the topics you want to know more about and how we should cover them.

We want to hear from you 

The Journal recently launched The Good Information Project with the goal of enlisting readers to take a deep dive with us into key issues impacting Ireland right now. 

Over the coming weeks, we’re going to take a look at all of these angles as we try to dive deeper into Ireland and China’s relationship. 

You can keep up to date by signing up to The Good Information Project newsletter in the box below. If you want to join the discussion, ask questions or share your ideas on this or other topics, you can find our Facebook group here or contact us directly via WhatsApp.

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work is the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.

About the author:

Adam Daly

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