The Ireland China Institute (ICI) is a new independent think tank based in Dublin, Ireland which was officially launched in October 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. It is registered as a Charity with the Charity Regulator.
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, Michael Flynn as Treasurer, Enda Kenny, Marie O’Brien, Eddie O’Connor, Ruairi Quinn, Odran Reid, Mary Ruane Alan Wang 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 publicly launched in October 2019 with an event co-hosted with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade commemorating the establishment of Irish-Chinese diplomatic relations in 1979. An Tanaiste, Simon Coveney delivered a major speech entitled “Ireland and China – Looking Towards the Next 40 Years”.
Further economic conferences and events are planned for 2020. ICI is poised to establish itself as an important resource for both Ireland and China