China's Vice President Xi Jinping wrapped up his three-day visit to Ireland on Monday with a trade and investment summit, as Dublin seeks to provide Beijing with an EU financial foothold.
Ireland is the only European Union country that Xi is visiting on an international tour, and Irish ministers say it sent a strong signal that Ireland was the place to do business in the 27-member bloc.
Dublin is promoting its low 12.5 percent corporation tax rate as well as solid trans-Atlantic ties with the United States.
"We want China to look at us like a bridge or gateway, where there is potential not just for investment by Chinese companies or investors directly but also opportunities to build partnerships with investors in the US," Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore told the Financial Times newspaper.
The Irish economy is slowly recovering after the eurozone member was forced to seek an 85-billion-euro ($112 billion) EU-International Monetary Fund rescue package in November 2010 after massive debt and deficit problems left the economy on the verge of collapse.
On Monday Xi was to meet President Michael D. Higgins at the Aras an Uachtarain, the Irish president's official residence in Dublin's Phoenix Park, before visiting parliament for talks with the speakers of both houses.
He was then to head to an Ireland-China trade and investment forum at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham banqueting venue, involving around 250 Irish and Chinese companies.
Xi arrived in Ireland on Saturday after a visit to the United States and was to depart for Turkey after the trade forum.
The vice president has been given a taste of Emerald Isle culture during his visit, sipping an Irish coffee and trying out his skills at hurling and Gaelic football at Dublin's Croke Park stadium, the cathedral of Irish sports.
He attended a performance of Riverdance, the international musical hit show based on Irish step-dancing.
And in western County Clare, he visited the famously beautiful Cliffs of Moher and a dairy farm where a newly-born Friesian heifer calf was named after him.
On the political front, Xi held talks with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Sunday. Bilateral agreements were signed on trade links, investment and education.
"We welcome the opportunities which our growing relationship with China presents," Kenny told Xi at an official dinner in Dublin Castle.
"We welcome the growing people-to-people links in trade, education and tourism," he added.
Kenny said both countries understood the need to reform and innovate.
"Just as China has transformed itself in its recent history, so too has Ireland," he said.
Kenny also said the two countries' enterprises and institutions were building long-term sustainable relationships.
"Ireland and China have much to offer each other in food and agriculture, in high technology research and in investment. We should make every effort to realise that potential," Kenny said.