|2.||Annual Barbeque, Wesley House, Sunday 9th September.|
|3.||Mr. Yuyang Wang, Inner Mongolia, Past and Present.|
|4.||‘EU-China Tourism Year – Opportunity for Ireland’ The Westbury, 28th March 2018|
|5.||CIMA Book Donation Lexicon Library, 10th April.|
|6.||AGM 25th April. Chinese Ink Art Demonstration by Ms. Angelia Yingge Xu.|
|7.||26th April. Dinner Sichuan Chilli King Restaurant.|
|8.||23rd May – Share and Tell Party Photo Gallery.|
|9.||30th May - Asia Market Tour.|
Chinese zither(Guzheng)player, Jenny Liu, whose son Jason Liu-Doyle gave a reading on the day and Graphic Artist Angelia Yinnge Xu added to an occasion rich in culture.These books will help to compensate for the lack of bilingual Mandarin-English books in libraries in Ireland and improve the quality of cultural communication between the two countries, as well as meeting the demand of local Chinese study enthusiasts and Dún Laoghaire residents with Chinese heritage.
The evening began with an eloquent tribute by Debbie to Jane Almqvist whom she credits with inspiring her to join the ICCS in the first place. A special acknowledgement of Jane’s contribution to the society will be compiled shortly.
The new committee was duly elected. Debbie was thanked for all her great work as President,always carried out with such aplomb, and Yanyi was welcomed into the role as the 4th Chinese President of the ICCS.
After the meeting we were given a demonstration of Chinese ink art by artist and graphic facilitator Angelia Yingge Xu. She showed us the different types of brushes she uses, some made of sheep’s hair and others from wolf hair!
Angelia uses a special ink which is sourced from a pine tree and ground down and a special type of paper, not available in Ireland, which is like rice paper and comes in both yellow and white. The white paper is very soft and strong and absorbs water very well. The yellow version is excellent for calligraphy and also for printing.Angelia uses a special ink which is sourced from a pine tree and ground down and a special type of paper, not available in Ireland, which is like rice paper and comes in both yellow and white. The white paper is very soft and strong and absorbs water very well. The yellow version is excellent for calligraphy and also for printing.
Carved wooden blocks, made from bamboo, are used to flatten the paper. They are decorated with carvings of flowers and plants: plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum. There is also a magic mat with squares which requires only water to function as the ink is incorporated in the paper. You can use a hair dryer to dry the paper and re-use it.
Angelia painted the character ‘Zen’ 禅 and the painting process, as she went on to describe it, did seem like a form of meditation with body and mind in complete harmony.
Black ink is used in the main as you can see different colours in the dark ink on white paper. Angelia quoted the saying from Taoist philosophy ‘Sometimes when you do nothing you do everything.’ (Wu Wei), doing nothing here is taken to mean not interposing conscious action between oneself and the harmony that emanates from the brush and ink.
Simply sit straight and let the energy radiate from your heart and through your arm to your hand so that it expresses how you’re feeling at that moment. You have to hold the brush in a particular way. You may use the tip of the brush to go straight down to the paper or you can use the side of the brush to do ink blot painting.
In Chinese painting light and dark are used to represent distance. Angelia used a very dark ink and wet her brush although it can be left dry. Then she tested the blackness of the ink on a piece of tissue paper. She painted a bamboo stem and in doing so she had to be very calm as, otherwise, it would show on the canvas. She left gaps in the stem and, in drawing the more distant leaves, she used more water for a lighter effect.
Notwithstanding our new-found insight into the techniques involved, Angelia’s artistry remained hidden in plain sight and the bamboo materialised effortlessly from the paper and ink like a brand of close-up magic. It was a novel and inspiring way to round off the night’s proceedings. Paul Murray
The night after the AGM, a group of us reconvened to spend a very pleasant evening in the Sichuan Chilli King restaurant on Parnell St. As well as the fine food and pleasant company there was the added bonus of being in an area where you can do some late-night Chinese supermarket shopping! Thanks to Anita for organising.
Stories to be featured in subsequent newsletters.
On arrival, we gathered at the entrance to the corridor where the lucky cats are wont to wave good luck to customers but we were in the way of those same customers so we had to move a bit further along to hear Eva Pau’s introduction to Ireland’s Premier Asian Food destination.
The passageway between the exterior food store and the interior is, in actual fact, Eva’s favourite space in the Asia Market and I can understand why because it gives you that ‘through the wardrobe’ Narnia-type feeling as you emerge from a very modest shop into a large, busy market full of a bewildering array of products from various Asian countries, more than 4500 items in all. Luckily, there is a road map to help with navigation as different countries of origin have their own well signposted aisles.
At the outset of our guided tour we were fortified by an offering of green tea, longans (like a smaller version of the lychee) tasty spring rolls and other dainties and, as we made our way through the aisles, we were plied with tastings of both meat and vegetarian dishes. Eva answered all our questions, dished out plenty of information and gave us some useful cooking tips assuming you were better at making mental notes than I was: whatever was that rice dish composed of different types of rice that take the same time to cook, I ask myself.
Never mind. If, like me, you’ve forgotten most of the advice you can always check out the extensive recipe lists on the Asia Market website for inspiration.
Apart from sourcing Asian products the Asia market also works with Irish producers of Asian food and we came away with a basketful of goodies that included the Naas-based Fiona Uyema’s Cheeky Chilli Soy Sauce along with other irresistibly named products such as her Glorious Ginger Soy Sauce. We also bought Golden Curry Sauce Mix, Chinkiang Vinegar and some delicious mochi. Paul Murray
Lisa Li is the initiator and Chairperson of this Chinese Charity which aims to facilitate and help Chinese families with special needs children living in Ireland. The vision of the organisation is that one day children with special needs and their families can be better integrated into our society and the expertise and knowledge in the special needs area will be more easily accessible to those families.
Chinese tourists are well-educated, high-spend visitors; all the more reason for any outstanding visa issues to be addressed.
Ireland can be marketed as part of a GB-Ireland package with Dublin, for example, providing the perfect starting point for a European Tour. Honeymoons are an emerging market with Castle Experiences a particular draw.
A lot of valuable research has already been done on profiling and we know, for example, that the breakdown of Chinese tourists visiting Ireland is as follows: 39% couples, 23% friends, 64% over 50s, 91% on package holidays and 93% travelling on to the UK. Marketing successes from a Tourism Ireland perspective include 5 programmes about Ireland on the popular Chinese Talk Show Morning Call which has achieved 64 million views, features on Cityzine, one of China’s leading culture and lifestyle magazines and Lonely Planet and a very successful digital marketing and social media presence as well as an interactive programme on St. Patrick’s Day on the popular Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo.
Siobhán told us about Tourism Ireland’s China Sales Mission this year in which 25 Industry Partners, over 20 media outlets and 115 Chinese tourist outlets took part and mentioned the international travel company, Ctrip.com as a very good partner for Tourism Ireland. Media exposure on Star Wars and Game of Thrones and the ‘greening’ of landmark structures all help to raise the country’s profile among prospective Chinese tourists and Enterprise Ireland is working with Screen Ireland to bring Irish media productions to China, the children’s cartoon series Puffin Rock being an obvious example.
Ms. Caroline Devlin, Council Member, Ireland China Business Association and a partner in the Arthur Cox Tax Group, spoke about ‘Investment in and out of Ireland’. She gave a brief outline of our common law system and assured us that there is equal access for all parties to the Courts with no discrimination. She took us through the kinds of concerns Chinese entrepeneurs would have before undertaking investment in Ireland. ‘Will I be treated like the Irish?’ ‘Will my money be safe?’ Caroline assured us that if anything inward investors are probably treated better than indigenous ones.
There are tensions between a desire to control employees
on the ground and the need to hire local people, to have a
majority of Irish resident directors in the context of a
Chinese reluctance to employ substitute directors and
‘Shamrocking’ as companies wish to maintain control but do
work on the ground as well. Arthur Cox can help with
resolving these difficulties and devise an employment
policy that will satisfy Irish legal requirements.
Post-Brexit there will be opportunities in the passporting
area and, given international efforts to stamp out
offshore accounts and other forms of tax avoidance,
companies are keen to locate where they can get a good
corporation tax rate. A good way to get companies into the
country is to make it easy for them to leave if their
plans change and she assured us that the Irish system is
very good in this respect. Lastly, she dealt with the
matter of outbound investment by entrepeneurs thinking of
setting up a business in China.
She left us with a few points of good counsel, using a brief comparison which serves as a warning about the pitfalls involved. In Ireland it takes 3-5 days to set up a business whereas in China it takes 4 -6 months so it is important that any such venture is well-planned, the moral being not to set up a structure you may not need as it will not be simple to unpick it. By all means use word of mouth, preferably the horse’s mouth or a mouth you can trust. Protect your IP. Read the small print or get someone you can trust to do so. Manage finance and payments. Get help but make sure that it’s the right help.
Mr Brian Gallagher, Council Member, Ireland China
Business Association spoke about ‘Connectivity’ and being
Brian outlined the DAA corporate structure which comprises Dublin Airport, Cork Airport and DAA International, the operator of Ireland’s State-owned airports. He told us that 15 new airlines have begun operations at Dublin Airport recently with a throughput of 30 million passengers passing through the facility last year.
He mentioned Ryanair’s reinstatement of direct flights to Marrakesh, the more than 1 million extra passengers coming into Dublin Airport this year and the fact that there will be 36 million direct and 4 million indirect passengers out of Ireland. He spoke about the Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong which will operate 4 times a week and the Hainan Airlines flights which will be scheduled 4 times a week, with a stopover in Edinburgh on two of them. In the airport, like the hotels, China-Readiness means signage in Mandarin, access to Sina Weibo and WeChat and, importantly, hot water, the go-to beverage for Chinese travellers.
Openness is very important for Ireland and there will be more slots available for the growing Chinese tourism sector when the new runway at Dublin Airport is completed in 2021.
Ms. Mary Ruane, Council Member, ICBA dealt with the topic of ‘Language and cultural preparation: new challenges, new responses’ She focused on Ireland’s linguistic and cultural preparedness for doing business with China and feels it is necessary to consider sectoral needs, what there is to build on already and who should be partnered with in this process.
In relation to government support for the teaching of Chinese she suggested that Level 6 to Level 9 courses would be required and a facility for sending students on work placements abroad as well as the provision of Level 8 University Courses and some postgraduate courses at Level 9 to complement the work of the Confucius Institute classrooms and the development of Chinese in Secondary School as the system gears up for the first sitting of a Mandarin Exam in the Leaving Cert in 2020.
There are other matters that need attention. Institutes of Technology which have been the Primary providers for the Tourism Sector will need to look at the structure of their programmes and the costs associated with them and there is also the problem that the teaching of Chinese is not available outside Dublin. However, on a positive note, new enabling legislation, the Technological Universities Bill, has been signed into law which allows for 12 to 14 new Technological Universities to be established, and Language Connect (Ireland’s Foreign Language Strategy (2017 -2026) outlines specific measures for Chinese including the provision of a full Junior and Leaving Certificate programme.
In considering the issue of attracting Chinese students to study in Ireland a tourism spin-off that should not be ignored is the fact that parents of Chinese students have a curiosity about seeing the place where their children studied.
Mr. Alan Dixon, Council Member, ICBA spoke about ‘Doing business with China - reflections, then and now’ Alan established Ireland’s first Trade Development Office in China in 1979 at a time when Deng Xiao Ping’s Open Door Policy had begun to attract foreign investment into the country. Twelve Irish companies went out to begin with, including two involved with milk powder and aircraft leasing (Tony Ryan,of course, whose academy for entrepeneurship is pictured above). Over the years, for various reasons, there have been times of slower growth in China but that is still mega-growth by European standards leading to disposable incomes doubling in recent years and China’s growing middle class becoming the biggest in the world. It is predominantly a young, e-commerce generation (We chat pay has a billion shoppers and put through I trillion dollars in payments last year), These are young consumers open to the world as exemplified by the fact that Dubai increased tourism from China by over 40% last year.
In doing business with China being China Ready is a must but Alan repeated the message that Irish companies have work to do in this respect. He went on to give us a flavour of the dynamism of modern day China with his description of the Bund area in Shanghai where some internet companies operate the controversial 996 work system (working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 6 days a week) but one element in China’s 2020 vision involves an aim, through R& D, to lead the world in Artificial Intelligence by then. Maybe that will alleviate some of the strain on human workers! It is a daunting but exciting prospect for Irish entrepeneurs. There are metro lines everywhere in the Bund so plenty of opportunities to board that train the Ambassador mentioned earlier.
Ms. Jenni Smart, International Association Account Manager, Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall gave us some insights into the subject of ‘Belfast Waterfront Conference Centre, Best Event Space 2017: A Delegate’s Journey & Experience.’ Jenni’s Belfast, the Belfast of the Waterfront and its sister venue, the Ulster Hall, is a new city full of ambition and energy, compact, walkable and all set to enhance the experience of delegates attending international conferences. In the course of her work she has learnt to take nothing for granted. Sometimes visitors are not too sure where they are and Ireland is confused with Iceland! She referred to recent changes in Chinese educational policy with regard to English in the curriculum as a positive development and the possibility of bringing a Chinese film star here to raise Ireland’s profile. She also praised the Courses provided by Enterprise Ireland which are designed to help companies with the preparatory work that is necessary for entering the Chinese market. So far Irish companies have shown a degree of reluctance to undertake these courses which is a pity as it is important to avoid a mentality that thinks ‘My product is special.’ and assumes that you can begin selling without the necessary preparation.
The Waterfront itself is a relatively recent phenomenon having opened its doors for the first time in 2007 and they don’t do things by halves there. Imagine hosting a dinner for a thousand people. That certainly sounds like a form of China-Readiness to me!