The 34th Confucius PhD Forum and the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland (CII) Public Lecture Series took place at UCD on December 5, 2017. Professor Liming Wang, Director of the UCD CII and Honorary Chairman of the Confucius PhD Forum, delivered a public lecture on ‘China’s New Silk Initiative: Vision, Actions and Implications for Ireland. Mr Ken Duggan, Chairman of the Ireland China Institute (ICI, soon-to-be-established) hosted the event, with an audience of around 200 representatives from the political, business and academic arenas.
Professor Wang began by describing the two big dreams he had cherished since the inception of the CII: the establishment of the model Confucius Institute Building and the introduction of Mandarin Chinese to the Irish Leaving Cert. He was thrilled to inform the audience that these two dreams were both coming true very soon. He then shared his next dream: to extend the B&R Initiative to Ireland.
His lecture focused on the visions, actions and implications for Ireland of the B&R Initiative from the perspective of a brief introduction, the background, challenges, actions of the B&R Initiative as well as Ireland’s opportunities against the backdrop of the Initiative. Professor Wang elaborated on this grand millennium project with quotations, videos and graphs.
To start off his talk, Professor Wang played a video of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s presentation of the B&R Initiative. He spoke of the background against which the Initiative was formed and its major contents, investments and regions in its radius.
He brought the audience back in history to the ancient times of the silk road, summed up the connections and development at different times between the two ends of Eurasia both on land and on the sea. He explained the significance of the inspiration from the ancient Silk Road and the new Silk Road Initiative in creating a community of shared future for mankind and ‘Back to Future’ in the 21st century.
In the third part of his lecture, Professor Wang analysed the challenges that the B&R Initiative faces both domestically and internationally; he then presented the actions and the development of the Initiative, including new funding resources, investment projects, etc. He also analysed the trends of Sino-Irish investment and trade development, stressing that China’s investment in Ireland has achieved a dramatic increase. Professor Wang compared Ireland with New Zealand, stating that despite similarities in economic scale, population and industrial structures between the two countries, cooperation and exchanges between New Zealand and China in areas such as business, trade, education, direct flights, tourism and the B&R Initiative are much closer and more productive than those between Ireland and China.
Toward the end of his lecture, Professor Wang listed some projects in Ireland could be qualified as the projects under B&R Initiative framework as case studies; he also introduced the concepts of the Ice Silk Road and the Digital Silk Road. In conclusion, Professor Wang stated that China is no longer ‘Water from afar’ to put out fire nearby in Ireland, the B&R Initiative provides excellent win-win opportunities for Europe, Ireland in particular. Professor Wang then answered questions from the audience, who gave him a warm round of applause at the end of his lecture.