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Ireland seeks more links with Chengdu

By HUANG ZHILING and PENG CHAO in Chengdu | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-05-25 10:30
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There is great potential for cooperation between Ireland and Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province, in fields such as culture, tourism, pharmaceuticals, and green technology, Ireland's Ambassador to China Ann Derwin said on Friday.

Derwin made the remarks at the opening ceremony of Irish artist Niamh Cunningham's art exhibition and workshops in Chengdu.

The art exhibition, themed "The Memory Palace of Tree Stories", displays 26 artworks by Cunningham that tell the stories of trees of various shapes and types from places including Ireland, the Czech Republic, Beijing, and Chengdu.

"Sustainability is a shared focus of people in Ireland and China, and I am impressed by how our contemporary artists use their creativity to give us new perspectives on sustainability and biodiversity," Derwin said.

Pointing out that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and China, she said the exhibition is an example of the vibrant engagement between Ireland and China across a range of sectors, from education, to business, tourism and the arts.

Derwin said the exhibition coincides well with the ongoing International Horticultural Exhibition 2024 Chengdu, which includes a pavilion from Fingal in Ireland, a sister city of Chengdu.

Derwin said this was her fourth visit to Chengdu, and what impressed her the most was the city's giant panda conservation and breeding program.

"Many people know that the giant panda was an endangered animal, but now with the successful breeding program, it is no longer endangered," she said, adding that this is a remarkable example for many countries around the world that are trying to preserve biodiversity.

Derwin said there were many things in Chengdu that would attract Irish people, including the pandas, Sichuan cuisine and the city's rich cultural heritage, while Ireland, with an unspoiled environment, is also a very attractive destination for Chinese tourists.

She said the Chinese government's decision to extend the visa-free policy to countries including Ireland for short-term visits until the end of 2025, will attract more Irish people to visit China, and since there are many similarities between Ireland and Chengdu, she expects an increase in two-way tourism.

Derwin said there is significant complementarity between the economies of Chengdu and Ireland. She expects greater cooperation between Ireland and Chengdu in areas including pharmaceuticals, trade and green technology.

Cunningham said the reason a city is great is usually because its people are great, and that she is interested in learning about the people of Chengdu and their connections to nature and hearing the tree stories of Chengdu.

She said her art practice allows people to explore their relationships and reconnect to the natural world.

Cunningham said she believes that sharing these stories will deepen our awareness of our fragile planet, foster community and help people's mutual understanding during these ecologically challenging times.

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