Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping became the latest in the long list of leading figures in the political world to arrive at Shannon after he touched down on Saturday afternoon to start of his three-day Irish visit.
Mr Xi Jinping, who is set to succeed China’s president Hu Jintao when his second term ends in October, was greeted on arrival by the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore and his wife Carol Hanney, acting airport director Niall MacCarthy and the Chinese Ambassador to Ireland Mr. Liu Biwei.
Speaking on his arrival, Vice President Xi Jinping said he was delighted to visit “the beautiful country of Ireland known as the Emerald Isle on the invitation of Prime Minister Enda Kenny”. The main purpose of his visit, he said, was “... to deepen the traditional friendship between our two peoples and take our bilateral relations and practical cooperation forward”.
Ireland, added the Vice President, with its rich cultural history and physical beauty, was a “... success story of moving, in a short period of time, from an agro-pastoral economy to a knowledge economy”.
The Chinese leader later visited the Shannon Free Zone, adjacent to Shannon Airport, which he said was one of the world’s first and most successful economic development zones and offered a great insight for other countries looking to open up and develop their economies.
Following an overnight stay at Dromoland Castle and some local engagements, which included a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, Vice President Xi Jinping and his 145 strong party flew to Dublin from Shannon on Sunday afternoon.