Shannon’s long-standing ties with China have deepened with a visit by leading Chinese dignitaries.
Mr. You Quan, Head of China’s United Front Work Department together with His Excellency Mr. He Xiangdong, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, met at Shannon Airport with Shannon Group Chairman, Rose Hynes, Shannon Group Acting CEO, Mary Considine, and Andrew Murphy, Managing Director, Shannon Airport, a Shannon Group company.
The purpose of the visit was to familiarise themselves with Shannon Group operations. In addition to their meeting in Shannon, the delegation received a briefing on Shannon Free Zone from Ray O’Driscoll the Managing Directory of Shannon Group’s property company Shannon Commercial Properties. They also enjoyed a tour of Bunratty Castle from Niall O’Callaghan, Managing Director, Shannon Group’s tourism company, Shannon Heritage.
Speaking after the visit, Shannon Group Acting CEO, Mary Considine said that it is further recognition of how important the Shannon region is viewed by the Chinese authorities.
“We were delighted to welcome Mr. You and his delegation to Shannon. We had a very positive meeting during which we discussed the very close current and historical ties between the regions as well as the opportunities that exist to strengthen these in the years ahead.
“Mr. You expressed his respect and admiration for the pioneering history of the Shannon Free Zone which has had a lasting impact far beyond Ireland. The visit again reaffirms the role that Shannon plays for Ireland in terms of international relations. Clearly, the big economies of the world admire how we do business here,” said Ms Considine.
The relationship between Shannon and China dates back almost four decades to 1980 when Mr Jiang Zemin, who would later become President of China, led a Chinese Government delegation to study the Shannon Free Zone model, which has since been adopted across China with the development of their hugely successful Special Economic Zones.
Mr Jiang Zemin’s visit to Shannon began a stream of visits which saw two Chinese Premiers and many Chinese Government delegations visit to further explore the regional economic development model here.
Since then, among those to have visited Shannon were President Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji, Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier Huang Ju and Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan. The latest of these was Xi Jinping, President of China who visited in 2012 when he was then vice-president.