Northern Ireland has enjoyed a relationship with China for many years and we were delighted when Vice Premier Madam Liu Yandong visited Belfast in 2012 and initiated the start of more formal arrangements with the Northern Ireland Executive. In 2013 our Ministers were invited to Beijing to meet with the Vice Premier and it was agreed that the Executive would open a government office in Beijing and China would open a Consulate in Belfast. The Bureau’s operations started in China in September 2014 our Representative Office opened in March 2015. Since then we have seen a significant increase in visits, activities and events with China. This is very much a long term relationship and I am pleased to say we have made a lot of friends here already and we are working with partners to identify programmes and projects that will lead to long term benefits for everyone. The Executive has approved a strategy, for the Northern Ireland Bureau's first two years of formal operations in China andit takes forward the objectives of the International Relations Strategy approved by the Northern Ireland Executive in February 2014. It is intended as an overarching strategy to establish our presence in China and to serve as a guiding and coordinating policy across the public sector. It also acknowledges that the objectives and impact we want will not be achieved solely by public bodies but recognises the role of other stakeholders including businesses, in maximising opportunities in our relationship with China.
We recognise we are in the early stages of this more formal relationship but we are fortunate that we have many organisations willing to help us and to offer advice. As part of the UK embassy platform we work across the network teams and the various sectors where we are able to represent N Ireland’s interests and we are also able to brief our organisations at home on opportunities that may be available through the embassy. We also enjoy support and help from the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing on those areas where we have mutual interests.
Our Representative Office has legal status in China which allows us to employ people to work on Northern Ireland’s behalf in China and to engage in commercial activities. The Invest NI Beijing team are also located in this office which strengthens the corporate NI approach in China and we hope to add to this in the future.
We hope this website and our other social media helps to provide information to those of you interested in Northern Ireland and China; we hope that it helps organisations make the decision to seek opportunities to work together and we would encourage you to contact us and hopefully we can help answer your questions.