Beijing and Dublin

I am in favour of increasing our relations with China. Getting closer to Bejing is part of that. Chinese language in schools is another step we should pursue.

Report to the Chairperson and Members of the Protocol Committee

The Protocol Committee at their meeting held on the 1st of July 2010 agreed the following motion; “That Dublin City Council adopts a policy of adopting bi-lateral relations with Beijing”. The motion had previously been agreed in principle by the City Council who asked that it be referred to the Protocol Committee for follow-up with a further report to the City Council in due course.

It is envisaged that a twinning relationship with Beijing would produce significant benefits to both cities politically, educationally, economically and culturally in the future.

There are many advantages in having a relationship with Beijing:

• Support our international education offering – All our Universities are actively recruiting students in China and our education system is promoting Chinese as a foreign language. It would help our Universities if Dublin was linked with the Chinese capital Beijing. There is an Irish institute for Chinese studies at UCD and an Irish Study Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BEIWEI). There are at present approximately 3,500 Chinese students in higher education in Ireland.
• Assist social inclusion of Chinese in Dublin -There is now a very significant Chinese population living in Dublin. The majority are from mainland China and all have deep cultural, lingusitic and social roots to the Chinese nation. It would strengthen the bridge culturally and socially if Dublin was linked to the capital of China. While the official census for 2006 states there are 11,161 Chinese people living in Ireland, other sources indicate that this figure could be as high as 100,000.
• Help develop economic opportunities – Dublin and Irish companies are competing for access to the Chinese market. It would enhance the position of such companies if Dublin had bi-lateral relations with the Chinese capital. There are approximately 300 Irish people living in Beijing. 250 Irish SMEs are engaged with trade in China and 107 of them have offices there. There are 115 Irish companies with an interest in China, many of them in the education sector. China is Ireland’s seventh highest trading partner. Enterprise Ireland have identified opportunities for Irish companies in the following sectors:

• Software and I.T.;
• Environment;
• Education;
• Medical devices;
• Food and Drink.

• Develop opportunities for cultural exchange – China has a rich cultural heritage and bi-lateral relations with Beijing would help us develop cultural exchanges.
• Enhance our international positioning – Having a bi-lateral relationship with a major world capital such as Bejing would greatly enhance our international standing.

Over the last 3 years we have hosted visits from a number of Chinese cities including Beijing. The work being done by the Office of International Relations identifying cities across the globe that Dublin should link with, identifies Beijing for economic, social and cultural reasons. Twinning would facilitate having a formal programme with Beijing supporting educational exchange and co-operation, economic development, cultural exchange and exchange of different view points. Twinning with Beijing would significantly enhance and promote Dublin and Ireland’s identity and recognition with Beijing and within China.

Beijing has expressed its interest in having Dublin, as Ireland’s capital, twin with them. Cork City Council is formally twinned with Shanghai since 2005 and this twinning arrangement has been very successful for both cities in recent years.

A decision to enter into a twinning arrangement under Section 75 of the Local Government Act 2001 is a reserved function of the City Council.

Peter Finnegan,
Director – Office of International Relations and Research.