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pressing the flesh

Ireland rolled out the red carpet for China's second most powerful man today

Premier of China Li Keqiang has gone west (of the Shannon).

Updated 4.46 pm

china 1 Youtube / MattSullivan Youtube / MattSullivan / MattSullivan

CHINA’S SECOND MOST powerful man was given the red carpet treatment when he landed in Shannon Airport today as part of a two-day visit.

The Premier of China, Li Keqiang, was greeted by Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Shannon Group chairman Rose Hynes as much fleshed was pressed on the tarmac.

Li is on his way to South America for a four-country visit and is staying in Ireland overnight as part of that trip. He is being accompanied on by a number of Chinese government ministers as well as his wife Professor Cheng.

After Premier Li’s jet touched down and the formalities were completed, his car departed Shannon flanked by two briefcase carrying members of his security team.

china 2 Youtube / MattSullivan Youtube / MattSullivan / MattSullivan

The premier then headed off to meet with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney at a beef and dairy farm in Mayo.

It comes after a ban Irish beef in China, imposed more than 15 years ago, was lifted earlier this year.

Premier Li is staying in Ashford Castle in Mayo tonight and there is to be an event there this evening that will be attended by the Taoiseach as well as Irish and Chinese ministers

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and his Chinese counterpart will also announce the signing of a visa waiver deal that will see some Irish and Chinese passport holders exempt from visa requirements for up to 90 days.

Chinese Premier SNN 01 Alan Place / FusionShooters Alan Place / FusionShooters / FusionShooters

Li is due to stay here until Monday.

The trip follows on from the Taoiseach’s visit to China in 2012 when the Strategic Partnership Agreement was struck.

President Michael D Higgins made an eight-day State visit to China last December, during which he invited the Premier to visit Ireland.

- With reporting from Rónán Duffy

Read: President Michael D Higgins is off to China today

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