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Political Implications of Ireland’s Deepening Economic Relationship with China

View of Cliffs of Moher in Clare county of Ireland
View of Cliffs of Moher in Clare county of Southern Ireland
People walking along a street wearing masks in China
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Video: Ireland’s Deepening Economic Relationship with China

Economic relations between Ireland and China have expanded in recent years. Chinese investment in Ireland jumped by 56% in 2019, even as it fell in Europe as a whole. The value of Irish exports to China grew from less than $4 billion in 2016 to $11.25 billion in 2020.

For Ireland, China presents an opportunity to diversify trade and investment at a critical time for Irish businesses. For China, Ireland is a gateway to the European market and, following Brexit, the only EU country other than Malta with English as an official language. As a business and tech hub, Ireland is an attractive place for Chinese firms to headquarter.

While the economic benefits of closer Irish ties with China are obvious, the political implications are less clear. The relationship is not developing in a vacuum, but in the context of a shift in relations between Europe, the U.S., and China. Ireland must reckon with how it views its role in this evolving environment.

The event was hosted by the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies and The Wilson Center's Kissinger Institute on China and the United States and Global Europe Program.

Panelists included:

Jamil Anderlini – Asia Editor, The Financial Times

Finbarr Bermingham – Europe Correspondent, South China Morning Post

Tim Mawe – Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ireland

Yvonne Murray – Journalist, RTÉ

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