Ireland

‘Some questions’ to discuss with Chinese premier during Ireland visit – Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will meet Li Qiang in Dublin.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to meet Chinese premier Li Qiang
Leo Varadkar Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to meet Chinese premier Li Qiang (Brian Lawless/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there are “some questions” he will discuss with Chinese premier Li Qiang during his visit to Ireland this week.

China’s second most powerful politician after President Xi Jinping will meet Mr Varadkar for bilateral talks in Dublin on Wednesday.

He will arrive in the city later on Tuesday for his first visit.

He will also meet President Michael D Higgins at the Aras an Uachtarain on Wednesday morning.

During their working lunch at Farmleigh House, Mr Varadkar and Mr Li will discuss a number of issues including EU-China relations.

He will arrive on a Boeing 747 Max 8, which is the largest commercial aircraft ever to land at Dublin Airport, on Tuesday evening after speaking at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland.

He was the first high-ranking Chinese government official to attend the annual gathering since Mr Xi in 2017.

Speaking hours ahead of the Chinese premier’s visit to Dublin, Mr Varadkar said China is a “very important political and economic power” in the world.

Mr Varadkar added: “We’ll greet the prime minister of China in Dublin tomorrow. He’s arriving today, that’s an important visit.

“China is a very important political and economic power in the world and becoming bigger all the time in that sense. So it’s important that we have good relations with China but also some questions we will need to talk about as well.”

Mr Varadkar did not elaborate on the questions or issues he will raise with Mr Li.

However, Martin Murray, executive director of Ireland-Asia think tank Asia Matters, previously said he said he hopes the ban on beef exports to China will be on the table when the two leaders meet.

Beef exports from Ireland to China were suspended when a case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) was discovered by Irish veterinary officials in November.