To celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations with China, a new edition of ‘The Irish and China’ has been published.
In his introduction, President Higgins points out the growing presence of Irish products in China: infant milk formula, Kerrygold, Dubliner cheese, Baileys and Jameson.
Beyond that, a surprising number of people know about literary figures such as Joyce, performances like Riverdance and singers like Enya.
In return, how much do Irish people know about China?
President Higgins hopes that the book will help us learn from each other about how to cope better with common problems we face. The book is an effort in that direction.
I contributed the chapter on what Irish Missionaries did and learned. In the process I discovered more about the Irish Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican missionaries whose efforts began earlier than those of the Maynooth Mission to China (Columban Fathers, one hundred years ago) to involve Irish Catholics in what was happening in China.
Does anything happening in China have relevance for today’s Ireland?
A society likes Ireland’s that is getting narrower and more self-complacent needs to keep in touch with wider realities and China with its size, distance and differences can supply that.