Written Answers. - Ministerial Meetings.

Liz McManus

Question:

39 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the results of his recent visit to China and his meetings with the Chinese Prime Minister and Foreign Minister; the increase in trade, if any, he expects with China following his meeting; if he raised the issue of human rights in China during his visit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8153/98]

Louis J. Belton

Question:

47 Mr. Belton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the discussions he had with the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Qian Qichen. [8238/98]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 and 47 together.

I have already set out my answer to a priority question relating to my views on human rights in China following my recent visit there — Government policy on that important aspect of our relations with China.

My offical visit to the People's Republic of China from 24 to 28 February enabled me to discuss with the Chinese leadership a wide range of issues concerning both bilateral relations and international developments. In the course of my visit I had extensive discussions with the then Prime Minister, Mr. Li Peng and the then Foreign Minister, Mr. Qian Qichen. I also met four vice-Ministers responsible for trade and industry.
The visit, which took place on the eve of a major congress in China and in the immediate aftermath of a decision by the EU Council of Ministers to increase dialogue with China and intensify efforts to improve human rights in that country, provided the opportunity for very useful exchanges of views as well as achieving concrete results.
My meeting on 25 February with the then Foreign Minister, Mr. Qian Qichen, was perhaps the most substantive during my official visit to China. In addition to the question of human rights, I raised a wide range of issues with him, including trade relations, Hong Kong, the Asian financial crisis, the prospects for the Asia-Europe Meeting, ASEM, the situation in the Korean peninsula and Tibet. I furthermore took the opportunity to brief him on the situation in Northern Ireland.
As I mentioned earlier, concrete results covering the political, economic and cultural fields were achieved by the visit. Some of the issues on which progress has been made will be the subject of further discussion at a meeting to be held in London later this week between the Taoiseach and the new Chinese Prime Minister, Mr. Zhu Rongji. On the economic side, a meeting of the Ireland-China Joint Commission took place last week and I believe that this too will pave the way for increased economic relations and provide a boost to the level of Irish exports to China.