A “substantial and productive discussion” – which included the topic of Irish beef exports to China – was held between Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and his Chinese counterpart, Minister Wang Yi, in Guiyang, China this week.

Held on Sunday (May 30), the meeting, which took place in the context of Ireland’s membership of the UN Security Council, had an “extensive agenda” covering bilateral relations, EU-China relations as well as issues on the agenda of the UN Security Council, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The ministers spoke about restoring access to the Chinese market for Irish beef after exports were suspended last year.

Minister Coveney sought Minister Wang’s support in reaching a conclusion of the assessment by the relevant Chinese authorities of the single case of atypical BSE from last May, noting the confirmation last week by the OIE of the negligible risk of BSE in Ireland and recalling the adherence by Ireland to the provisions of the Ireland China Beef Protocol.

EU-China relations were discussed at length, with both sides expressing a wish to have stronger cooperation while also recognising that there are several outstanding issues that need to be resolved.

Minister Coveney outlined Ireland’s position on the treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. He also expressed concern at the introduction of the National Security Law in Hong Kong and the implications it has on the One Country Two Systems principle.

For his part, Minister Wang expressed his concerns at the delays in ratifying the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and at other EU initiatives perceived as discriminating against China.

Both ministers discussed the issues openly and recognised the value of a stronger relationship between the EU and China and the need to cooperate on global issues such as responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

In the context of Ireland’s membership of the UN Security Council, both ministers discussed topics facing the council, including the situations in Syria, in Ethiopia and in Myanmar.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Coveney said:

“It is important to have good, open discussions with key foreign leaders. It is through constructive dialogue like we just had that we will find solutions to the many problems that face us.

“I want to thank Foreign Minster Wang for the serious engagement that was evident this morning. We agreed on many things and there are several other issues where Ireland and China do not agree.

“But, as we saw today, there is always room for honest and constructive engagement between us and I look forward to meeting the Minister again in Ireland when circumstances permit.”