How important will China and knowledge of China be in Ireland’s future?

Encouraged by captains of Irish industry, who should know better, Opposition politicians with an agenda, and armchair critics within the tabloid and online media, a degree of pessimism appears to be growing among Ireland‘s small to medium (SME) sized business sector regarding the ‘risk versus reward’ futility of getting involved in China business. More mature markets in EU and the USA are being represented as offering more scope to grow for Irish SMEs with the right value proposition.

Irish businesses no matter what their size cannot afford to be pessimistic about China and here is why.

“…China’s transformation is one of the defining facts of our lifetime. Last year China became the world’s largest trading nation. Next year China is set to become the world’s largest importer of goods and later this century it will become the world’s biggest economy.

We should be clear that there is a genuine choice for every country over how to respond to this growing openness and success. They can choose to see China’s rise as a threat or an opportunity. They can protect their markets from China or open their markets to China. They can try and shut China out – or welcome China as a partner at the top table of global affairs..”


The British Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron, on the eve of his second official visit, in an article published this week in Caixin (pronounced ‘sigh sheen‘), China’s financial news heavyweight, couldn’t have been more explicit about China’s growing importance.

Accurate China Insight - How important will China and knowledge of China be in Irelands future

Most China watchers will agree that – largest, longest, fastest, biggest, greatest, tallest superlatives aside- China is still in the very early stages of its re-emergence: Get in on the ground floor now and potentially be in the happy position of earning revenue hand over fist.

Sure China is no cake walk. At the beginning, building a China market presence from scratch involves hassles, stumbles, issues, errors, problems, stresses and utter confusion.  Yet, isn’t that what getting in at the beginning of any start-up business or market looks like? The only way to WIN is through hard work, support, communication, committment, patience, and understanding that there will be many instances of having to deal with a lot of confusion. Similar to a start-up company, these are the learning steps that must be taken to break new ground and grow a viable market presence in China.  

In a start-up there also comes a point when the challenges start to be overcome and things begin to gel together. And so to in insatiable China where the surmounting of challenges and barriers or difficulties will open the way to doing fantastic things and improving on a daily basis faster than would have happened in more traditional, mature, markets. 

With certain senior business executives and media in Ireland advocating a niche market approach for SMEs with respect to China [“China is a … slow burn” (Mr. Sean O’Driscoll, CEO Glen Dimplex); “More fortunes have been lost than made by getting in too early,” (Liam O’Mahony, Chairman, IDA Ireland) “Putting Mandarin on the school curriculum is a typical proposal from armchair ‘experts’ who have no experience of the challenges of selling in China – – 1.3bn consumers and all we need is a very tiny slice of the pie!” (Michael Hennigan, Editor of] the crux of this Accurate China Insight is to draw attention to the fact that almost all of Accurate Group’s Irish clients, no matter what size, doing business in China or with China succeed at it, while the vast majority of European and American companies in China are flourishing.

Moreover, we do not share the view that China is a particularly risky market for foreign companies. Like any foreign market with a unique language, business culture, and legal system something can go wrong. However, despite the challenges China remains, will continue to remain a very profitable place to do business, which is really what matters most for Irish businesses.

Returning to David Cameron:

China is at a defining moment. It has just announced bold reforms that show real ambition to free its markets and open them up to foreign participation…

As Chinese cities expand dramatically and Chinese people become more prosperous, Britain has the world-class goods and services they need…

Building on the recent launch of EU-China negotiations on investment, and on China’s continued commitment to economic reform, I now want to set a new long-term goal of an ambitious and comprehensive EU-China Free Trade Agreement. And as I have on the EU-US deal, so I will put my full political weight behind such a deal that could be worth tens of billions of dollars every year…

We should recognise that China’s economic transformation is happening at 100 times the scale and 10 times the speed of Britain’s own urbanisation two centuries ago. In the last 30 years, China has made unprecedented social and economic achievements. The recent meeting of China’s leaders – the Third Plenum – has now set a clear goal: comprehensive reform, including issues such as governance and the judicial protection of human rights, and recognising that all types of reform are inextricably linked. The promise is of an economy with a more predictable legal environment and with stricter enforcement of protection for intellectual property rights…

The fact is that businesses thrive in a stable, secure and corruption-free environment that limits the risk of shock, provides certainty of dispute resolution and offers protection of capital and intellectual assets. These conditions are good for growth in China…


And therein lies the rub for all Irish businesses. For our closest neighbour China is now at the core of its international trade relations. With the Chinese Yuan surpassing the Euro to become the second-most used currency in global trade (Source:, China, the number one retail growth opportunity in the world (Source:, is where it is happening NOW. Moreover,  the best has yet to come! 

Ireland’s SME’s should be able to determine a new China business model that suits their situation. Top management and business owners who are destructively determined to succeed by increasing efforts to ‘do more of the same better’ in their traditional markets and ignore the potential of China are going to lose out in the medium and long term.

Irish businesses across the board need to intensify efforts to tap the China market otherwise they will be left behind.

Accurate China Insight - How important will China and knowledge of China be in Irelands future 2

Source: Accurate China Insight

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group Ireland China Market Makers (Route to Market, Export, Import, Partner Due Diligence)


Twitter: @AccurateChina

China Office : Accurate Group China, Hangzhou – O: +86 571 8709 1253

Ireland Office: Accurate Ireland, Dublin – O: +353-1271-1830

A 68 year-old photograph reveals an Irish prisoner of the Japanese – “Uncle Barney” Byrne

It’s almost 68 years to the day on 28th August 1945 when the photograph below of  twenty-three Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Corps (HKVDC) prisoners of war (POW) who were on the verge of liberation following their internment at Yoshima POW Camp (Sendai No. 2 Branch Camp (#2-B)) in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture was snapped.

It was at this POW Camp where Private John Bernard Patrick ByrneBarney-, HKVDC #4732, and POW #96 was to spend:

13 months incarcerated … nine months incapacitated by amoebic dysentery …. and five months used as a slave labourer inside the Iwake coal-mine run by the Furukawa Mining Company

as written in ‘Diary of War: Private John Bernard Patrick Byrne (a.k.a “Barney”), HKVDC #4732, and Irish Prisoner of the Japanese in Shamshuipo and Sendai (1941-1945)’ – “the remarkable account of life as an Irish prisoner of the Japanese by an extraordinary man, “Uncle” Barney Byrne“.

On 5th August, while perusing a photograph album dating back to the 1930s belonging to my late mother Kathryn O’Reilly, I came upon two photographs of Barney during his childhood and as a young adult.

I soon found myself scrutinising the HKVDC POW photo below (Source:  courtesy of a Chris Rocha).

Appendix 05: ‘I knew your Uncle’ in the Diary written by fellow POW Alfredo Jose Prata noted:

“… a tatamie bunkmate of Barney’s “(Barney) and others of the HKVDC (mixture of  British, Polish, French  Norwegian, Swede, Czech and a few Americans) shared the same No.2 (combined hospital) hut with some 120 odd Portuguese POWs from Nos.5 and 6 Portuguese Coy HKVDC (and worked  in the same shifts in separate shafts in the coalmines).”

There are also a variety of nationalities in the photo. My attention was soon focused on the somewhat malnourished and tired looking man sitting at the far right of the bottom row.

Compare this man’s nose, the ears, the eyes and hair parting of to the two photographs from my mother’s album below.  Re-checking his diary entries for 28th and 29th of August 1945 in one instance Barney Byrne complains of having gone 72 hours without sleep, while in another instance he notes: “Photographs taken today – personnel only” .

After sixty-eight years the face now has a name: Private John Bernard Patrick ByrneBarneyHKVDC #4732 – Irish Prisoner of the Japanese in Shamshuipo, Hong Kong, and Sendai, Japan (1941-1945)

… when fighting was certain, and either capture or death highly likely (Barney) doesn’t show one glimpse of regret or self-pity. What a remarkable man…

[Source: Brian Edgar, 8th August 2013]

POW # 96 Private John Bernard Patrick Byrne - aka Barney - Irish Prisoner of the Japanese - at Yoshima POW Camp Sendai 2B - is seated bottom row - far right. The photograph was taken on 28th August 1945.  (Source:
POW # 96 Private John Bernard Patrick Byrne – aka Barney – Irish Prisoner of the Japanese – at Yoshima POW Camp Sendai 2B – is seated bottom row – far right. The photograph was taken on 28th August 1945. (Source:
My Grandfather James Byrne, Senior, James Byrne Junior. and Barney Byrne (right).
My Grandfather James Byrne, Senior, James Byrne Junior. and Barney Byrne (right).
John Bernard Patrick Byrne - Barney - early childhood
Childhood- Barney Byrne

Exports showcase offers ‘rare’ opportunity for Irish products in growing China market

Niall O’Reilly, who organised the Hangzhou leg of the Irish Exporters’ Association trip to China which we reported on last month, says an offer by Wahaha chief Zong Qinghou to attend the company’s annual internal distributor exhibition marks a “very rare China market opportunity not to be missed”.

China’s richest man, with almost €9 billion in personal assets, Zong is trying to diversify his company, the country’s biggest domestic beverage group, by opening 18 self-run shopping malls, 35 franchising malls and a further 300 franchising stores by the end of 2015.

Wahaha has a nationwide distribution network of about 10,000 distributors, over 100,000 wholesaler and three million sales terminals. It employs more than 60,000 people, has 150 subsidiary companies and 60 manufacturing bases scattered throughout China.

At the meeting with the Irish Exporters Association, Zong, invited Irish producers of milk powder, UHT milk, goat milk powder, tea, fruit drink concentrates, sweets, Irish whiskies and spirits, and, curiously, Irish tweed and knitwear products to attend the Wahaha European Premium Commodities Exhibition in Hangzhou from July 25th to July 28th.

While noting the short time to the exhibition, Zong thought the exhibition would be a great opportunity to showcase Irish products to Wahaha’s key distributors.

Exports showcase offers ‘rare’ opportunity for Irish products in growing China market - Zong Qing Hou Chairman Hangzhou Wahaha and Niall O'Reilly Managing Director Accurate Group China Business Advisers
China’s wealthiest man, Zong Qing Hou Chairman Hangzhou Wahaha – China’s most admired company – welcomes Niall O’Reilly Managing Director Accurate Group China Business Advisers to Wahaha’s HQ in Hangzhou

“This is a man whose primary interest in working with foreign companies is to bring into China products which Chinese companies are poor at making. If he likes a product, his nod is as good as a wink to Wahaha’s distribution network,” said O’Reilly, head of the Accurate Group.

China is set to become Ireland’s fourth largest export market in the next decade, and the retail sector offers huge market potential for Irish foodbeverage and clothing companies. Over 300 million people in China now have disposable income to purchase on non-essential goods that was not possible even back in the 1990s, while Chinese government policies aim to double household incomes by 2020.

Sources / Copyright: Clifford Coonan / Irish Times

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Product & Business Development (ExportImport, Partner Due Diligence) Consultancy


Twitter: @AccurateChina

China Office : Niall O’ReillyAccurate China 1-3 Ying Hui Xing Zhou, Jiang Nan Shui Xiang Lian Sheng Road, Yuhang District, Hangzhou. China 310023| O: +86 571 8709 1253

Ireland Office: Niall O’ReillyAccurate Ireland 93 Upper Georges Street, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland| O: +353-1271-1830

Irish Exporters Association / Asia Trade Forum Flagship Business Visit to China (Suzhou / Hangzhou Shanghai) June 23rd to June 28th

Irish Exporters Flagship Business Visit to Suzhou and Hangzhou, China, June 23rd to June 28th


The Asia Trade Forum, an initiative of the Irish Exporters Association established to increase two-way trade with Asia, is delighted to announce a Business Visit in June 2013 to two of China’s most fabled and leading business cities, Suzhou and Hangzhou.

The visit will encompass the two cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou, both on the Yangtze River Delta and 30 minutes from Shanghai. Typically, Business Visits tend to focus on Tier 1 cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Both Suzhou and Hangzhou are highly competitive cities, with rapid economic development. In addition, they both offer a consumer market with above average disposable incomes. They are ideal gateways to China for your business.

The visit will take place from 23rd to 29th June in partnership Grant Thornton, William Fry, RBS/Ulster Bank, Enterprise Ireland, Euler Hermes, FcM Travel, and Etihad Airways.

The purpose of the Business Visit is to:

  1. Showcase exporting or partnering opportunities in Yangtze River Delta economic region.
  2. Showcase Chinese companies who wish to trade with Ireland.
  3. Highlight the growing indigenous Irish companies operating in China.
  4. Provide a platform for Irish and Chinese businesses to exchange trading opportunities.
  5. The event will include seminars, roundtable workshops, and 1:1 meetings with perspective customers and partners.

Dates / Schedule:

Sunday 23rd June

A.M.:  – Depart Ireland Etihad Airways

Monday 24th June

A.M.: – Arrive in Shanghai Pudong International Airport / transfer to City of Suzhou by road
P.M.: – Arrive City of Suzhou

[Distance from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Suzhou is about 120km (similar to driving from Dublin to Enniscorthy)

Tuesday 25th June

All-Day: – Gain real hands-on experience of the Suzhou / China business environment; find out what opportunities are on offer:

Match-making with potential buyers, suppliers, and partners

Wednesday 26th June

A.M. –Gain real hands-on experience of the Suzhou / China business environment, find out what opportunities are on offer:

Match-making with potential buyers, suppliers, partners

P.M. Depart City of Suzhou / Transfer overland to City of Hangzhou

[Distance from Suzhou to Hangzhou is about 166km (similar to driving from Dublin to Belfast)]

Thursday 27th June

All-Day:- Gain real hands-on experience of the Hangzhou / China business environment; find out what opportunities are on offer: Match-making with potential buyers, suppliers, and partners

Friday 28th June

A.M. – Gain real hands-on experience of the Hangzhou / China business environment, find out what opportunities are on offer: Match-making with potential buyers, suppliers, partners

P.M. – Wrap up / Tour of West Lake

Evening – Head to Shanghai Pudong International Airport / Return to Ireland
[Distance from Hangzhou to Shanghai Pudong International Airport is about 200km (similar to driving from Dublin to Tipperary)]

Accurate China Insight - Irish Exporters Association - Asia Trade Forum Flagship Business Visit to Suzhou Hangzhou and Shanghai China June 2013

Business Visit Participation Fees and Details

The participation fee to take part on the mission is €500 plus 21.5% VAT per company.  The following will be included as part of the participation fee:

  • Seminars, business networking events and quality 1:1 match-making meetings (utilising the combined resources of local government and on the ground Irish Exporters Association expertise).
  • Group lunches and evening receptions in both cities.
  • Company profile and business visit brochure.
  • Organisational and logistical support including transfers and transport in China.
  • Negotiated group rates in hotels.

Travel Agency Support

Registration for the business visit opens on Tuesday 14th May, please visit to register.

Final deadline for registration is Friday 7th June.

Travel Information & Visa

Information on travelling in China and vaccine requirements in available from the Department of Foreign Affairs on

business visa must be obtained through the Chinese Embassy visa service.

You will be required to include the following:

  • Passport valid for at least 6 months with 2 blank pages facing each other
  • 1 passport photo
  • Company Letter- stating 12 mth multiple visa
  • Invitation letter (to be arranged by ATF)
  • Application form and additional business form (attached).

Processing time is 10 working days. There is a same day service available for Irish passport holders for an additional €125. The IEA Consular Service can assist with visa applications.

What makes the Asia Trade Forum Business Visit to China Different?

  • Irish Exporters Association / Asia Trade Forum, having hosted many high-level delegations from these two cities over the years, have excellent relationships with local governments in Suzhou and Hangzhou
  • China isn’t a single market: 5 megacities with populations of over 10,000,000; 14 cities with populations of over 5,000,000 (including Suzhou and Hangzhou), and 41 cities with populations of over 2,000,000. The Yangtze River Delta economic powerhouse is a market place of 88,000,000 people
  •  The Irish Exporters Association / Asia Trade Forum is in a unique position to work with practical and enthusiastic local governments, Irish business associations and Irish businessmen and businesswomen working on the ground in China to deliver a constructive Business Visit focused on quality match-making and business lead generation
  • The Irish Exporters Association / Asia Trade Forum are very conscious of the cost constraints holding many Irish companies back from engaging with China. This will be a very focused Business Visit aimed primarily at developing inroads into China’s Tier 2 city markets where strong local government relationships are critical.

Introducing Suzhou and Hangzhou

Chinese Proverb:

“In heaven there is paradise, on earth Suzhou and Hangzhou”

About Suzhou

A city built in 514 B.C.; Suzhou has long been one of China’s richest cities. Immediately west of Shanghai is strategically situated in the Yangtze River Delta region, China’s economic epicentre. Suzhou is also located in Jiangsu Province, which has the highest GDP per capita of all Chinese provinces, and the second highest GDP.

Suzhou Development

Municipality population:   10,500,000

Urban population:   4,074,000

Average temperature in June:    23 degrees

Average annual income:    Approx €13,000

According to Forbes ™ China, in 2011 Suzhou was China’s “best business city”, while in 2012 Suzhou was the “most innovative city” in China. Suzhou is also the 2nd largest manufacturing industry base in China, producing, for example, 40% PC sets, 65% mouses, 30% micro-cameras, 10% PC boards of world supply

Suzhou’s ranking among major cities of China 2011 / 2012:

– Patent Applications     NO.1

– Government Service     NO.1

– Patents Grant     NO.2 (2011)

 Best Business Environment     NO.3

– Overall Competitiveness     NO.5 (2012)

– G.D.P     NO.5 (2012)

–  Total Exports     NO.3

–  Total Imports and Exports     NO.4

Irish companies including GlanbiaPM GroupEPS ElectronicsElement Six, etc, have already either invested in Suzhou operations, partnered with Suzhou-based companies, or sold products and services to companies based in Suzhou.

About Hangzhou

Legend has it that Marco Polo called the former imperial capital of China, Hangzhou: “without doubt the finest and most splendid city the world“.

Hangzhou is known for its high level of education, advanced technology industries, considerable wealth and the fabled West Lake scenic area. Four of China’s best known brands were born, and are headquartered in Hangzhou Alibaba and Taobao (which is why Hangzhou is referred to as China’s e-commerce capital), Wahaha (mineral water), and Geely (owner of Volvo electric car research).


Municipality population:     8,700,000

Urban population:     6,242,000 (10th largest in China)

Average temperature in June:     23 degrees

Average annual income:     Approx €10,000

Ranked by Forbes™ in December 2012, as the second “best city for business” in China, after Shanghai, Hangzhou has benefited almost disproportionately from the spread of wealth, development, and investment from Shanghai, which is 2 hours north. For example, Hangzhou already has 108.5 millionaires per 100,000 residents, China’s highest concentration of wealth.

The provincial capital of central Zhejiang Province, which is considered China’s technological and entrepreneurial heartland, Hangzhou is also situated on the southern wing of the Yangtze River Delta region, where it ranks 2nd in terms of economic prosperity.

Hangzhou’s ranking among major cities of China 2011 / 2012:

  • Patent Applications     NO. 1 (of Provincial Capitals 2011)
  • Government Service     NO.2
  • Patents Grant     NO.2 (2012)
  • Best Business Environment     NO.2
  • Overall Competitiveness     NO.8 (2012)

Kerry Group is one of a number of Irish companies who have already either invested in Hangzhou operations, partnered with Hangzhou-based companies, or sold products and services to companies based in Hangzhou

Sector-related Market Opportunities for Irish companies in Suzhou and Hangzhou

  • Software, e-commerce, animation, gaming design and testing
  • Precision machinery manufacturing
  • ICT
  • Services industry
  • Cleantech / Environment protection
  • Automobiles
  • Bio-pharmaceutical / medical
  • Retail
  • Government
  • Horticulture
  • Chemicals
  • Food, etc…

Note: Do not be put off if your business sector does not appear in the list above, as it is the intention of Irish Exporters Association / Asia Trade Forum to try to assist every company interested in tapping the China market to find potential partners / clients.

Estimated Travel Costs

Once the registration fee has been received and the registration form completed, FcM travel will offer a negotiated package to delegates.  However costs may vary according to individual itineraries and exchange rate.  The costs are based on the first 20 places on the visit.

The FcM travel cost will be approx. €1800 to include:

  • Etihad Flight    (Departure from Dublin:  Sunday 23rd. Arrive in Dublin Saturday 29th)
  • Transfers and internal transport
  • Lunch and evening receptions (2 in each city)
  • 4* Hotel Accommodation

For further information contact:

Ashley Beston, Asia Trade Forum Manager,

Irish Exporters Association  or 01- 642 4170

Niall O’Reilly, Director for China, Irish Exporters Association,

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Product & Business Development (ExportImport, Partner Due Diligence) Consultancy


Twitter: @AccurateChina

Accurate Group China Office : 1-3 Ying Hui Xing Zhou, Jiang Nan Shui Xiang Lian Sheng Road, Yu Hang District, Hangzhou. China 310023| O: +86 571 8709 1253

Accurate Group Ireland Office: 93 Upper Georges Street, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland| O: +353-1271-1830

Accurate China Insight: How many people from Ireland are living and doing business in China?

As a Chinese language student studying in Beijing in 1989 I recall when all 8 members of the Irish community living in Beijing were evacuated by the Embassy to the safety of Hong Kong, following the June 3rd / 4th massacre in Tiananmen Square. It was a time when down in Shanghai the view from ‘The Bund’ (Wai Tan) across the Huangpu River to Shanghai’s Pudong district offered little more than a jumble of old low-rise warehouses, residential units and farming lots. Foreigners were few and far between. Living in China was considered at best a hardship posting.

Accurate China Insight - Irish population in China

Now, following the establishment in China of close to 150 Irish-owned business operations led by Glen Dimplex, CRH, Treasury Holdings, PCH and Kerry Group, etc, an influx of teachers from Ireland to teach English, and Irish graduates attracted by the growing range of job opportunities on offer to Irish candidates, the number living and working in China (including Hong Kong and Macau) has increased to at least 3,000 Irish citizens (Source:, an estimate, based on the numbers of citizens registered with the Embassy in Beijing and Consulate in Shanghai, and the volume of consular business (including passport applications, other document applications and consular assistance) conducted.

However, this number is likely to be at the low end of the spectrum simply because:

  1. there is no obligation on Irish residing in China to register with the Embassy and Consulate; and
  2. many Irish scattered across China in cities such as Hangzhou, Urumqi, Changchun, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Dalian, Ningbo, Qingdao, Tianjin and Xiamen, etc., probably haven’t registered with the Embassy or Consulate.

The total number of foreigners living in China at the end of 2010 was about 600,000 people according to the latest Population Census. According to the Xinhua News Agency:

the top three home countries of the foreigners were the Republic of Korea (ROK), the United States and Japan. Among the foreigners living on the Chinese mainland, 56.62 percent or 336,245 were males and 43.38 percent or 257,587 were females”.

Note: The Embassy and Consulate are restricted in law in how the citizens register is used and cannot make it available outside the Embassy and Consulate. The more people who register with them the more accurate the estimate can be.

The Sunday Business Post-


Accurate China Blog

Niall O’Reilly

Accurate Ireland – China Product & Business Development (Export Sourcing Import) Consultancy

Tel: +353 1271 1830 / +86 15257194468

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The subtle Irish art of winning Chinese hearts and minds: Irish Pub culture takes off in China

The subtle Irish art of winning Chinese hearts and minds: Irish Pub culture takes off in China
China Government officials and businessmen enjoying the craic with pints of Guinness in O’Donoghues Pub Merrion Row Dublin

Hooley’s in Guangzhou; Danger Doyle’s, The Volunteer, Paddy O’Shea’s and PJ O’Reilly’s  (and quite a few more) in Beijing; Delaney’s and Dublin Jack’s in Hong Kong (and quite a few more); Druid’s Irish Pub in Yantai;  O’Reilly’s in Ningbo; The Shamrock Irish Pubs in Ningbo, Hangzhou and Chengdu; Finnegan’s Wake Irish Pub, in Nanjing; Mulligans in Shenyang; The Irish Pub in Xiamen; O’ Malley’s Irish pubs in Changsha and Qingdao; The Speakeasy Irish Bar in Taipei (and quite a few more); Irish Bar, Macau; Green Molly in Xian; The Ennafort Irish Pub in Jinan, Back Garden Irish Pub in Guilin; The Dublin Irish Pub in Tianjin, The Toucan Irish Pub in Wuhan; The Harp Irish bar in Chongqing; McCawley’s Irish Pub in Shenzhen….. (have been doing a bit of research on the topic!! Unfortunately, I’ve only visited about half the pubs on the list)

There’s probably double, or even triple the number of Irish Pubs on Mainland China, in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, especially if you include the hotel chains: All spreading the word that Ireland has a friendly, relaxing and fun-loving culture, whether it’s good music, the perfect pint and good food, in a clean atmosphere: All Irish pubs in China are true Ambassadors of Irish culture.

What’s particularly noteworthy is the fact Irish pubs have been opened by pioneering Irish businessmen and women who have lived on Mainland China, in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau for a long while. They know their stuff and all the gossip about what’s going on in their area. Chinese businessmen and women who have lived and studied in Ireland are also opening Irish pubs as well.

What an excellent source of business intelligence for all businessmen and women from Ireland looking to development business in China.

A role for Irish Government agencies / Embassy of Ireland in Beijing?


  • Draw up a full list of Irish Pubs in China
  • Promote the creation of an Irish Pub in China association
  • Encourage initiatives supportive of Irish business interests

For example, encourage the Irish Pubs in each city could set aside a Meeting Room for Irish businessmen and women to host business meetings with Chinese clients during office hours, not just to drink, but to savor the atmosphere. The rooms could be sponsored by an Irish business, or Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, IDA Ireland…

With 50% of China’s population moving into its cities, and 160 cities in China with populations of over one million people, to use the business jargon that Irish Pubs offer “compelling growth” potential for their shareholders, and for the development of Irish business interests in China is an understatement in the extreme.

The “there are no strangers here only friends” mindset associated with Irish Pub culture is clearly becoming a potent weapon in winning Chinese hearts and minds over to genuinely Irish culture, and more.

A seisiún (music making session) at The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, Dongping Road, Shanghai
A seisiún (music making session) at The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, Dongping Road, Shanghai
A seisiún (music making session) at The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, Dongping Road, Shanghai
A seisiún (music making session) at The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, Dongping Road, Shanghai
China Government officials and businessmen enjoying the craic with pints of Guinness in O'Donoghues Pub Merrion Row Dublin
China Government officials and businessmen enjoying the craic with pints of Guinness in O’Donoghues Pub Merrion Row Dublin

Niall O’Reilly

Accurate China Business Services

“Helping Ireland’s Business Do China Business”

Tel: +353 1271 1830 / +86 152 5719 4468

A craving from the far side: An Irishman in Hangzhou and a Chinese lady in Dublin.

HIMSELF: Ah the things I still miss most from Ireland make me realise I can be very one-dimensional in my ways.  Sad to say but seriously a day without a mug of golden coloured Barry’s tea , with its warming aroma, is just a day incomplete. Call it a caffeine addiction of whatever you like, but this deep-rooted cornerstone of my life brings habit and sense of purpose to the day…..

…..And you haven’t had a real bag of crisps (or what the Americans call ‘chips’) until you’ve gorged your way through a bag of Tayto, and not just one pungent crisp at a time, but a whole handful (as much as you can cram into your mouth in one go), and not one bag at a time, but quickly followed up by a second bag as well….. finger licking good, deadly! (Irish speak for brilliant)…..

…and then there’s Guinness, Ireland’s black beer. I miss the smooth creamy fresh taste of a Dublin pint… I have, to the point of despair, like more than once, watched yer man down in our “Sham” of a pseudo Irish pub here in Hangzhou, the Shamrock….. pouring a pint with all the finesse of a donkey .  No skill level whatsoever, non comprendo that pull is directly related to quality, creaminess and smoothness. “Don’t pour it in one pull” I silently beseech him, “what’s the rush?“. But, then again he likely knows that Guinness just doesn’t travel well.  Maybe it’s the potholes on some of the more rural roads between Dublin and Hangzhou, or the swirling about in the kegs, but by the time it appears in China .. Well, put it like this there is nothing quite so awful to drink as Guinness gone bad! 

HERSELF: Curious about what locals from Hangzhou crave for when they go to Ireland? I have been pondering the answer to this question for years….. Well, read no further.  I just received the following phone messages from WJ, one of the Hangzhou Municipal Government’s finest and brightest, who is in Dublin for a training course that will keep her there for the whole summer.

Date: 17th July:  Location: Dublin to Cork inter-city train:

09.15 hrs (Dublin time):

If it is not too much trouble please bring me some sunflower seeds, dried beef, packed preserved eggs , and most importantly vacumn-packed sweet and sour Wuxi pork ribs. Thank you very much”.

After a few minutes to ponder the order and ogle out the window Irish landscape rolling by… a second message………

09.31 hrs:

haha, maybe don’t bother with the eggs and the beef. Make up with more ribs!”

and then a third message…

09.45 hrs:

” 无锡酱排骨 卤鸡蛋 .真空包装的熏鱼干. You may show the shop assistant the above names”

Who is the more desperate? And we hadn’t even begun to compare the heat of a Hangzhou summer to the cold of an Irish “summer”!

And the mention of heat has me thinking WJ will be sending me another message….. Surely no self-respecting Chinese spice addict can survive in Ireland for long periods at a time without a fresh supply of 辣椒 pronounced “la jiao” (red peppers)? 

“Gobbledegook” – The Government should have listened to Dustin the Turkey


The power to sink the grand European Union Project. 3 million Irish voters, the only country in the EU voting on the Lisbon Treaty, a watered-down version of the European Constitution, voted on June 12th. A “No” vote, or a turnout of less than 40%, warned the “establishment” parties and social partners, would bury the Treaty and plunge the EU into crisis. A decision with huge consequences for Ireland and the EU, vote “Yes” the “establishment” said. 


As in no way! So Dustin the Turkey, Ireland’s 2008 Eurovision Song Contest entry [see my earlier blog:!5772D98ABC777E23!2410.entry]  really did catch the national pulse when he called the Lisbon Treaty [a watered down version of the European Constitution] “gobbledegook”, while our politicians and social partners have proved they are so completely out of touch with their people that it has gone beyond a joke……… It’s difficult to imagine a more out of touch political class. Sarcastic

No amount of back-pedaling by any politician representing the “establishment” parties, or government spin will get Ireland out of the mess they have placed the country in, and what a mess it is… Despite what the politicians will say, this vote against the Lisbon Treaty was as clear an anti-political establishment vote as there ever was. It was also a tipping point when the Irish electorate appreciated that all is not well with the economy and wanted to express this. Now we are all asking:  if the Government is not able to understand what the people are afraid of in voting ‘no’, do we think they have the cop on, wherewithal, to fire up the country to face the huge economic challenges of the next few years? Will they make a mess of that too? Eye-rolling

While the vote shows the self-confidence of the Irish electorate,Angel and that democracy is alive and well in Ireland, Europe’s 480,000 million citizens may well ask how 800,000 Irish voters managed to wreck their grandiose European Union Project to have a President of Europe, lessen the power of the EU’s smaller member states, and have a stronger foreign and defense policy (which us neutral Irish saw as meaning further militarization), even if they weren’t allowed to hold referendums in their own countries. Voters in France and the Netherlands had already voted against earlier versions of the Lisbon Treaty.  

Well fellow Europeans, our ‘no’ vote was not anti-Europe. Everyone in Ireland knows how much we have benefited from, and positively contributed to, our membership of the EU. Ireland’s loyalty to the EU is and never has been in question. We all recognize the importance of being at the centre of Europe, and its contribution to peace on our island.

However, the Lisbon Treaty document was incomprehensible.Confused It was manufactured by the European Commission to prevent electorates around Europe from having a say in it, leaving it to the various parliaments to rubber stamp.  In Ireland the Lisbon Treaty required a change to the Irish Constitution and under such circumstances a referendum must be held. We were the only electorate given the opportunity to read the document and make a considered judgement. And what we saw and heard was way too complicatedThinking. We just didn’t understand it. Even our Prime Minister admitted to not having read the full document. If any other EU member’s electorate had had a chance to read and try to understand the document they too would have rejected it. As such, given the circumstances, the obvious course to take is if you don’t know, vote ‘No’.

Looking back at the Lisbon Treaty debates from my China pedestal it was clear from the beginning of the campaign that the “establishment” parties were unable to truthfully, frankly, and intelligibly tell the people what was involved, instead telling them to place their in the politicians to tell the people what was good for them and just say Yes, which is tantamount to bullyingBaring teeth, making it all the more remarkable that under such circumstances the electorate had the courage to vote ‘no’.

The reality is that the ‘no’ vote will not make the slightest bit of difference to the machinery of the EU as it operates today.  

So, what next? The EU asks Ireland to vote again? Not exactly the best way to enhance the EU’s reputation for democratic responsibility, while voices in Ireland saying that the EU doesn’t understand the word “no” would only grow louder. And if the Prime Minister went down the same root he would be taking a serious political risk, if he lasts that long. Tis a Great Little Nation our Ireland. Indeed it is. Unlucky Friday 13th: The ‘Yes’ side should have listened to Dustin. The Lisbon Treaty is dead.Party


Gobbledegook:  The language of turkeys and technocrats; unitelligible, jargon-laden, and nonsensical language with a sound that resembles language but has no meaning.

China – Under The Hood: What is an Irish Pub and can the Shamrock in Hangzhou be considered an Irish Pub in any shape or form?

26-May-07 at 2:47pm

Imagine it’s the Middle Ages and you are a spice merchant travelling through the green, boggy lands of Ireland. You might just take time to stop into an Irish pub for a drink and a rest. Pubs — short for public houses — were places that did not require a membership to enter, unlike private houses. So while the rich had memberships to other establishments, pubs were frequented by the hard working lower classes.

The history of the Irish pub is steeped in culture and folklore. An Irish pub of the Middle Ages was a rough-hewn place of natural wood furniture and stone walls. They bore large fireplaces and hanging oil lamps over wood or cobblestone floors. In addition to ale, an Irish pub usually sold essential food and hardware items. The Irish pub was a warm, welcoming place where people, including entire families, socialized, sang, relaxed, told stories, and exchanged gossip and rumours.

In the 19th century, under British rule, the Irish pub was prohibited. So, under the aggressive, independent spirit of the Irish, illegal pubs started to flourish during this time. Pubs became places where rebels gathered to grumble about British rule — some to release frustrations, others to coordinate full-scale rebellions.

And so to the Shamrock in Hangzhou: It takes much more than an Irish name and a neon Shamrock sign to be an Irish Pub. By definition a real Irish pub must have real Irish people in it once in awhile – on either side of the bar, and great great crowds enjoying the craic (a good conversation among equals). Some other requirements are: a two pour Guinness stout, (an imperial pint glass is a given) Kilkenny ale, a decent selection of Irish Whiskey (Power’s and Tullamore Dew), Tayto’s (the best crisps in the world) or Crunchies (chocolate covered toffee) for sale behind the bar, extra points for a fireplace (even if pseudo), live Irish sessiun, an open jam where musicians play traditional Irish instruments, and Irish food.

While it is relatively easy to import bar fixtures from Ireland, hire staff members with Irish accents and serve the requisite drinks, as is the case with the Shamrock in Hangzhou, good banter and craic can be harder to come by, especially if the strategy is to overcharge customers with high prices so that they don’t come back a second time. And yes real Irish Pubs exist are very successful in China: The Blarney Stone in Shanghai, Delaney’s and the Dublin Jacks in Hong Kong are heaving with fun, there’s always a hearty welcome, or a nod from the barman, and if he knows you well enough, or takes a keen interest in your story, a drink or two on the house. He definitely remembers what you drink. Great places to hang out with friends or have a quiet drink on your own, listen to Irish music and relax. Enough said about the Shamrock in Hangzhou.