The Ireland China Institute (ICI) is a new independent think tank based in Dublin, Ireland which is preparing to launch officially in June 2019. With its maxim bridging the gap between knowledge and understanding, it seeks to strengthen Irish-Chinese diplomatic relations, developing cultural links, fostering a deeper understanding of the respective cultural norms and values, deepening economic relations to the mutual advantage of both countries and encouraging interaction between educationalists, scholars and students.

The ICI originated with a project on China set up some fifteen years ago at the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), which sought to examine the strategic implications of the re-emergence of China as a major global player and to facilitate the exchange of information between Irish and Chinese policy-makers and educationalists. The success of the work programme and the ever-increasing importance of China led to the set up a separate working group on Irish-Chinese affairs under the auspices of the IIEA.

An organising committee was established in 2013, out of which came a mission statement and initial objectives. During this preparatory period, study visits were made to Chinese policy-makers and think tanks, while discussions were held with their counterparts in Ireland. As a result of this further research, it was decided to increase the scale of ambition and to create a separate think-tank on an independent basis.

A Constitution for the Ireland China Institute was drawn up and potential directors approached. Following a number of meetings, a distinguished board was put together and the Ireland China Institute was registered under the Irish Companies Acts as a company without share capital, in the process of recognition as a charity by the Charities Regulator (status expected to be confirmed in Spring of 2019).

Since mid 2018, the board of ICI has been functioning with Brendan Halligan as President and Irish businessman and educationalist Ken Duggan, as Chairman. Current board members encompass a broad spectrum of individuals experienced in the field, including Susan Barrett, Eileen Brennan, Ann Corcoran, Brian Cowen, Pat Cox, Eamon Gilmore, Jun Tian, Enda Kenny, Eoin McDonnell, Marie O’Brien, Ruairi Quinn, Odran Reid, Mary Ruane and Liming Wang.

A work programme is in place under the advice of potential stakeholders in business, education and public administration. The Ireland China Institute will publicly launch in June 2019 with an event commemorating the establishment of Irish-Chinese diplomatic relations in 1979. Two economic conferences are planned for the summer and winter of 2019. That being so, the ICI is poised to establish itself as an important resource for both Ireland and China.