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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 15 April 2021

President Michael D Higgins is off to China today

The President will be accompanied by the Finance and Foreign Affairs Ministers.

Xi Jingping met Michael D Higgins in 2012 here in Ireland
Xi Jingping met Michael D Higgins in 2012 here in Ireland
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins flies out today to begin an eight-day State visit to China.

The President will be accompanied by his wife Sabina and the Ministers for Finance and Foreign Affairs Michael Noonan and Charlie Flanagan.

Prior to his departure from Áras an Uachtaráin, the President received full military honours; to include a Captain’s Guard of Honour drawn from the 28 Infantry Battalion, based at Finner Camp; with ceremonial music by the Army Number 1 Band from Cathal Brugha Barracks.

On arrival in Beijing tomorrow, Sunday, the President and Sabina will visit the Forbidden City.

On Tuesday afternoon, the President will be greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People. After a ceremonial greeting in the North Hall, President Higgins will engage in official talks with President Xi Jinping.

Both Presidents will then witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between NUI Galway and Tsinghua University. Later in the evening the President and Sabina will attend a state dinner in his honour, hosted by the President Xi Jinping and his wife Madame Peng.

After moving on to Shanghai, the President will visit the former residence of Sun Yat Sen, the first President and founding father of the Republic of China, which was also visited by George Bernard Shaw in 1933.

The President’s officials have remained tight-lipped on the nature of the talks with Jinping and would not say if any human rights concerns would be raised with the Chinese.

This has been a busy year for the President.

This will be the fourth major visit this year. He made a state visit to the UK in April, an official visit to the United States in May and completed a three-country visit to Africa in November. He made official visits to France and Belgium in August, where he attended two major WWI commemorative events. In May he attended the Peter O Toole Memorial event in London and attended the Dylan Thomas 100 celebrations in Wales in October.

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