|Visiting Prime Minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern finished his visit to Shanghai, the second leg of his China tour Friday, confident about the future of China-Ireland cooperation.
China and Ireland share much in common, especially in terms of economic development. They will see a rosy prospect in bilateral cooperation, Ahern said in a speech Thursday toward hundreds of students of Fudan University in Shanghai.
The well-known school has signed a memorandum for long-term cooperation with the Trinity College of Ireland, which Ahern hailed as a great event in bilateral exchanges on education.
During his second visit to Shanghai started on Wednesday, Aherntoured the Oriental Pearl Television Tower and Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Development Park in Pudong of Shanghai and was "deeply impressed by the drastic changes there."
The economic development of Pudong is amazing, which is attributed to the active foreign investment and booming hi-tech industry, he said.
Ahern also gave a positive evaluation of the 2004 Global Conference on Scaling Up Poverty Reduction in Shanghai. China's efforts in poverty relief provide valuable experience to the world, especially to Asia and Africa, he said.
Given that the 11th Special Olympics was held in Ireland and Shanghai will be the next host in 2007, Ahern has found himself busy as advisor to the leadership of Shanghai Municipality.
Promising to offer whatever support needed, Ahern said he believes that Shanghai will be a successful host. Meanwhile, he disclosed that Corcaigh, the culture town of Ireland, is in talks with the east China metropolis of Shanghai on becoming twin cities.
Ahern arrived in Beijing on Jan. 17 and left Shanghai for Hong Kong Friday. During his stay in the Chinese mainland, Ahern pointed out more than once that Ireland wants to continue enhancing exchanges with China in the fields of trade, education, culture and tourism.
He put forward the Asia strategy six years ago and brought substantial progress on Ireland's cooperation with China in particular.
Official statistics reveal that China-Ireland trade volume has risen 10 times since 1998 to hit 3 billion Euro in 2004. China is the second biggest trade partner of Ireland in the Asia-Pacific area.
In Beijing, Ahern held talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and met separately with President Hu Jintao and top legislator Wu Bangguo. He also attended the opening ceremony for Irish food seminar, and gave a speech in prestigious Qinghua University.
Together with him there is a big business delegation composed of 228 people from 129 companies, including Minister of Enterprise,Trade and Employment Michael Martin, Minister of Education Mary Hanafin and Minister of Agriculture and Food Mary Coughlan.