His Excellency Li Changchun, the fifth ranking of nine-member Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China – the only political party in the country, visited Dublin today. The CPC was founded on 1 July 1921 and has almost 78 million members across 3.3 million branches. Over 71% of the membership is under 35 years of age and 21.7% are female members. Li was promoted to the Politburo at the age of 54 in 1998 – making him the youngest person ever to achieve this role.
China has become the 3rd largest economy in the world and having achieved a 9.1% increase in GDP in 2009 is poised to achieve an 8% growth this year.
Despite rapid growth China is still a developing country and although heavily populated it faces problems in the areas of employment, pensions, social security, housing and healthcare. But, according to Li, China is opening up and attaching great importance to intellectual property rights.
Ireland and China established diplomatic relations in 1979. Ireland has a trade surplus with China and exports to China increased by 17% last year. China is seeking to secure cooperation with Ireland in fields such as telecommunications, bio-pharmaceuticals, clean energy and other fields. It is also interested in initiatives to advance culture, education, media and tourism. Li is the propaganda chief of the CPC. He mentioned a need to fight against trade and investment protectionism, and to work jointly in areas such as climate change and economic recovery.