Tag Archives: hong kong

Here’s proof that 2014 was a landmark year in Ireland – China Relations

GREAT WALL OF CHINA BECOMES THE ‘GREEN WALL OF CHINA’ AS IT

The Green Wall of China

In terms of Ireland – China political and trade relations 2014 was a pivotal year. The following birds-eye view draws attention to the main breakthroughs as well as offering a hunch or two regarding how the kinship can be expected to develop into 2015.

Part 1: 2014 – The year that was

Part 2: 2015 – The year that will be

Open Sesame

– Export opportunities

– Strategic sourcing

– Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Accurate Group – China Market Makers

Part 1: 2014 -The year that was

Accurate China Insight China Investment Corporation 2014 a pivotal year in china ireland relations– The year had barely commenced when China Investment Corp (CIC) and The National Pension Reserve Fund announced an investment of US$100 million in The China Ireland Technology Growth Capital Fund which is turn will invest in fast-growing Irish start-up technology companies trying to expand into China.

– Another subtle telltale sign of the improving relationship was the Chinese Embassy in Dublin‘s anticipation of ” a need for increased facilities to carry out embassy, consular and state business“, as noted in the Irish Independent last February. It was around this time the Irish Government announced its intention to open a Consulate in Hong Kong.

– The first big dairy export deal of the year was won by Northern Ireland‘s Dale Farm – whey protein, a deal which effectively pushed its annual exports to China up to £20 million a year.

Chinese leasing company Bank of Communications Financial Leasing (JY Aviation) became the third Chinese aircraft leasing company to set up its European headquarters in Dublin..

WrightBus hits the streets of Hong Kong

WrightBus hits the streets of Hong Kong

– In March, Northern Ireland bus-maker Wrightbus of Ballymena won orders for more than 50 new buses in Hong Kong.

– While the photograph of President Higgins of Ireland being welcomed to China by President Xi Jinping in December 2014 represents the highest form of State engagement in diplomatic protocol, perhaps the most iconic image of the Ireland – China relationship in 2014 was the greening of China’s most important cultural icon, the Great Wall to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

– Meanwhile, the Bank of Ireland became the first bank in Ireland to offer business customers the facility to make payments in Chinese Yuan / RMB.

– H.E. Xu Jianguo was appointed Chinese ambassador to Ireland. Tellingly, his previous posting was as Chinese ambassador to New Zealand, the main conduit for dairy product imports into China (courtesy of a generous free trade agreement).

– However, the year wasn’t all about agriculture. Tencent, games industry giant and China’s largest and most used Internet service portal, chose Ireland’s Havok to deliver for its Iron Knight game dynamic battlefields, enhanced graphics, efficient character AI, more realistic animations and detailed destruction effects to offer players the most authentic fighting action possible. All-in-all, a huge milestone for Havok, the premier provider of interactive software and services for digital media creators in the games and entertainment industries.

Havok secured a landmark deal with Tencent

Havok secured a landmark deal with Tencent

– In May 30 Irish diary companies had products approved for export to China following stringent audits by Chinese authorities, a significant milestone for Ireland’s dairy industry.

– Also in May, then Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar leading a trade mission to China commented: “I think everyone accepts that sooner or later there will be direct flights between Ireland and China, most likely Dublin and Beijing...”

– …while a leading tourism survey in China observed that 62% of Chinese travellers were reasonably familiar with Ireland.

– Huawei Technologies, the leading Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services giant announced the establishment of a new R&D centre in Athlone.

Huawei opened an R&D centre in Athlone

Huawei opened an R&D centre in Athlone

– ChinaHR, the fast growing Asia-focused recruitment company owned by Leslie Buckley and Denis O’Brien, which employs 2,600 staff in 26 cities across China, was said to be mulling over plans to float in Hong Kong. There was also muted talk (but little substance) of a potential listing in Hong Kong by PCH International, which sells product development and supply chain management services – and is widely considered Ireland’s biggest exporter in China.

– On a serious note the Chinese sheep shearing team arrived in Ireland to compete for the first time in the World Sheep Shearing Championships. On a less serious note, Irish-American comedian Des Bishop wowed Chinese television audiences… in Chinese!

– H.E. Xu Jianguo, the new Chinese ambassador to Ireland, undertook a well-publicised pilgrimage to what Chinese officials consider to be Ireland’s Mecca – the Shannon Free Zone, following in the footsteps of Jiang Zemin’s 1980 trip to study the Shannon Free Zone model, which has since been adopted across China in the development of its hugely successful special economic zones.

– In June, Dublin Airport announced its intention to secure a direct air-link to China by mid-2016.

Accurate China Insight Unionpay 2014 a pivotal year in china ireland relations– June also saw a boost to Irish businesses as AIB Merchant Services enabled acceptance of the Chinese card UnionPay.

– During the same month a new visa to let Chinese tourists travel freely between Ireland and the UK was announced, a significant milestone for Irish tourism.

– Mr. Liu Yunshan, a leading member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, was the most senior Chinese official to visit Ireland in 2014. He was accompanied by four ministers in a delegation of fifty-one officials. Since 2011 nearly thirty Chinese Ministers or Vice-Ministers have visited Ireland. Clearly, the Chinese leadership considers a strengthening of the ties between the two nations to be of benefit for China.

– In October it was announced that China is to open a consulate in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

– On the education front, Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Education and Skills’s trade mission to China in late October was a fitting backdrop to a slew of positive news announcements:

– University College Dublin (UCD) opened an office in Beijing as Irish universities sought to step up their expansion into China. UCD estimated it has 1,000 alumni in China with over 100 based in Beijing.

– Trinity (TCD) announced a new Masters in Chinese Studies and the opening of the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, which it says “aim to advance Chinese scholarship and to promote Ireland as a leading knowledge centre for pan-Asian language studies and research”.

– University of Limerick (UL) also signed deals with four Chinese institutions.

– In November, as the year drew to a close, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney led a major trade mission of 37 companies to China. He also had plenty of positive news to announce:

– Kerrygold unveiled a new milk product for Chinese market, under the Chinese trade mark “Jin Kai Li”.

UCD, Irish company Richard Keenan & Co and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences joined forces to form the China-Ireland Dairy Science and Technology Centre with the goal of improving feeding efficiency, animal health and reduced environmental impact of dairy farming.

– Kerry Group launched a new Irish made infant nutrition product ‘Green Love’ for the China market. Produced at Kerry’s new €40 million facility in Charleville, Co. Cork. More importantly, 100 new jobs were created.

– Glanbia launched its Avonmore UHT milk brand in China.

Glanbia launches Avonmore UHT milk in China

Glanbia launched Avonmore UHT milk in China

Richard Keenan & Co entered into a franchise partnership with Shanghai Shengmu Livestock Company, a €7 million deal to accelerate sales of Richard Keenan‘s mixer wagons across the Chinese market.

A breakthrough year for Richard Keenan & Co

A breakthrough year for Richard Keenan & Co.

– Machinery company Samco, based in Adare, Co. Limerick, secured a purchase agreement with two companies based in Inner Mongolia, Northern China for their SAMCO maize planting machine and bio-degradable mulch film.

– Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), along with 12 Irish seafood companies, exhibiting to key buyers at the premier China Seafood Expo in Qingdao, highlighting boarfish in particular as a new viable product option.

Accurate China Insight Irish boarfish- 2014 a pivotal year in china ireland relations

– Irish mobile technology company Cubic Telecom signed a lucrative global agreement with China Unicom, to provide machine-to-machine (M2M) services to enterprise customers across mainland China and Hong Kong.

– Arthur Cox Listing Services acted as Listing Agent on the first Chinese transaction to list in Ireland, when China Petrochemical Corporation acted as guarantor for Sinopec Group Overseas Development (2013) Limited which listed its Dollar and Euro Senior Notes on the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE).

– Other notable deals for the island included: AB Pneumatics, a Lisburn Northern Ireland-based manufacturer of air springs for vehicle seating, won new business to supply £600,000 (€766,000) a year of equipment to Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) in Shanghai; Antrim-based Fastank won a deal to supply portable liquid storage systems for environmental clean-up operations at a major chemical plant in Shanghai; while BI Electrical, a specialist in electrical engineering services, has signed a £20 million (€25.5 million) China agreement with Keenshine in Shanghai.

– In December a team of Chinese veterinary inspectors visited Ireland to officially inspected Irish beef slaughtering and processing facilities. Irish beef producers are competing with Canadian and USA beef producers to gain China export approval. For Ireland to be the first EU member to have its beef approved for export to China would be major coup.

– The year ended on a high note with President Higgins of Ireland’s historic state visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, during which it was announced that President Xi Jinping of China had accepted an invitation to visit Ireland. (For additional insight into President Higgins of Ireland’s State Visit to China click the following url:  http://wp.me/p15Yzr-182)

President Xi Jinping of China welcomes President Higgins of Ireland to China

President Xi Jinping of China welcomed President Higgins of Ireland to China

Part 2: 2015 – The year that will be?

The one certainty in the relationship is that in the run-up to President Xi Jinping‘s return trip to Ireland, which is more likely to happen in 2016 (although with the next Irish general election expected to take place no later than 3 April 2016, the Irish Government will be pushing for President Xi Jinping to make undertake his State Visit to Ireland during the latter part of 2015) the political, economic and cultural relationship can only grow stronger. The one vulnerability is the transient Chinese economy, which although experiencing an extended period of volatility is unlikely to go off the rails.

Open Sesame

So soon after the close of such a vibrant year in Ireland – China relations, any talk of China’s massive appetite for Ireland’s baby formula, beef, pork suddenly metamorphosing into becoming a major cash cow at this point, is greatly overstated.

Every country trading with China wants a piece of the action, and in the food and drink sector competition is set to grow in intensity. For instance, Chile recently started exporting live cattle to China, while Australia recently concluded a free trade agreement with China that will give its exporters preferential pricing similar to that already enjoyed by New Zealand exporters.

It is highly probable that 2015 will see Irish beef producers benefit from the strengthened political bond by having their produce approved for export to China. Moreover, the formal announcement of a direct air-link and a significant rise in the numbers of tourists visiting Ireland are also highly likely.

Export opportunities

Relative to the overall size of the China market, for Irish businesses in search of China market opportunities, we would also beat the drum for:

  • Agricultural Technology;
  • Cleantech;
  • Construction Products and Technology;
  • Engineering;
  • Food Technology and Ingredients;
  • Healthcare and Hygiene Solutions;
  • Industrial Components (OEM suppliers), Life Sciences, Medical Devices (class I and II);

While in the B2C space, where domestic consumption is creating opportunities for foreign brands to sell products in China, the sectors we would make a pitch for include:

  • Foods and functional foods sold through grocery retail, health stores and on-line.
  • OTC and other products, e.g. baby products, consumer medical devices and aids, cosmetics, etc. that are sold through pharmacies, parapharmacies, health stores and on-line;
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

In addition, we are of the opinion that the time is ripe for a significant FDI from China, and in this regard two words come to mind: ‘Open Sesame’

Driven out of necessity, Hangzhou-based E-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group – arguably the world’s largest online and mobile company – is actively plotting its expansion to become a truly global company. Investments in Europe and the USA beckon. In this regard, we would be inclined to think the December visit by President Higgins and Minister of Finance Michael Noonan to Alibaba‘s headquarters in Hangzhou would have been quite effective in putting the squeeze on Jack Ma, Founder and Chairman, Alibaba Group, in considering Ireland as a possible location for further European expansion, bearing in mind that Alibaba already has an office in London’s Canary Wharf. (For additional insight into President Higgins’s visit to Hangzhou click the following url: http://wp.me/p15Yzr-18c)

President Higgins of Ireland meets Jack Ma, Founder and Chairman of Alibaba Group, in Hangzhou

President Higgins of Ireland met with Mr. Jack Ma, Founder and Chairman of Alibaba Group, in Hangzhou

Strategic sourcing

Given the extensive publicity that usually accompanies a China market breakthrough for an Irish exporter, it is easy to overlook the fact that the Ireland – China trading relationship is two-way.

Long known for manufacturing cheap products, over the past few years rising labour and real estate costs, have forced Chinese manufacturers to move up the value stream. Concurrently, an unrelenting series of tainted product scandals have generated a multitude of exacting government decreed benchmark quality standards. The ensuing marked improvement in product and food safety standards represents an economic transformation that is already rekindling China’s export competitiveness. By its very nature, we foresee Irish businesses increasingly focusing on China for strategic sourcing options, which over the course of the year will gradually eat into Ireland’s trade surplus with China.

Accurate Group – China Market Makers

Ireland is a long way away and Chinese people like to see a presence here. The first advice that we give to Irish companies coming to China is that they need to commit to the market. They are not going to come in and make a quick buck.

– Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland” Source: Irish Times, 15th December, 2014

The only way to succeed in China is to be aware and prepared – and to be on the ground. With this vital rule of thumb in mind, in 2014 Accurate Group, which is based in Hangzhou and Shanghai, was directly involved in developing China trade worth up to €4 million for Ireland’s food and drink sectors.

– By Niall O’Reilly

Niall O’Reilly is the Managing Director of Accurate Group, China Market Makers, and Director for China, Irish Exporters Association, has been based in Hangzhou since 2007.

Sourcehttp://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=l1UtkHyIg1Y= 

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Market Makers

Website: For more ‘Accurate China Insights’ click  http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.php

Twitter: @AccurateChina – China: The Ireland Angle

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

Ireland Office: Accurate Group, Dublin – O: +353-1 271-1830

Leave a comment

Filed under Accurate China Insight, Accurate Group, Business, China, Ireland

Extremely canny leadership is a must for Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution movement

Ominous People's Daily editorial of 1st October 2014 concerning

Ominous People’s Daily editorial of 1st October 2014 concerning “… Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability…”

Today’s very hard-line editorial in the Chinese Communist Party propaganda mouthpiece, the People’s Daily (http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2014-10/01/nw.D110000renmrb_20141001_5-04.htm?_ga=1.54034152.1995103149.1412169452) on this 65th China National Day reminds me that the Zhongnanhai (central headquarters for the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council (Central government)) script for dealing with Hong Kong’s “radicals”, “reactionaries”, “extremists” and “sinister elements” (a.k.a. counter-revolutionaries) was written in June 1989 by former Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping, whose ideas are currently the focus of a Party inspired nationwide renaissance.

The editorial’s threat that those who continue to participate in the protests should expect dire consequences has the same ominous undertone as a People’s Daily editorial released in the run up to the Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing, the latter being widely regarded as having prompted the ensuing slaughter. (http://wp.me/p15Yzr-r)

Certainly China’s new Paramount Leader Xi Jinping’s line of attack – an approach unreservedly endorsed by Hong Kong’s ever more authoritarian, government – will be “no contact, no negotiation, no compromise”, all the while pouring scorn on Hong Kong‘s ‘Occupy Central’ and ‘Scholarism’ protest movements, blaming American and UK “black hands” for stirring up trouble, and making use of pro-Beijing media and agent provocateurs to drive a wedge between the protesters and Hongkongers inconvenienced by the knock-on effect.

Adopting an attitude that the protests will die a natural death was precisely the same pigheaded mindset embraced by Chinese Premier Li Peng and the Chinese leadership back in 1989. When the leadership realised that the Tiananmen Square protest movement was actually growing they knew that the very heart of the Chinese Communist Party was under threat like never before… Martial law was subsequently introduced on 19th May 1989. The rest is history (a history that has been completely air-brushed away in China).

Embedded: Hong Kong's Yellow Umbrella Movement occupying Connaught Road Central

Embedded: Hong Kong’s Yellow Umbrella Movement occupying Connaught Road Central

Dealing with an opponent like the Chinese Communist Party will require very shrewd leadership.

While Hong Kong‘s political landscape will never be the same again, the Chinese Communist Party, as plainly demonstrated by its hardnosed actions in Beijing in June 1989 and in the outer regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, is not for turning.

As June 1989 showed China’s leadership would not give a second thought to spending years in international isolation so long as the Party’s complete domination of the state levers of power continues. Nothing else matters.

Meanwhile, Beijing has at least 6,000 well-trained People’s Liberation Army troops stationed in various barracks around Hong Kong, a useful deployment if over the next few weeks and months the Hong Kong Police Force proves incapable of quelling umbrella revolution protesters, with an increased possibility of the “turmoil” (another favourite word of China’s omnipotent propaganda machine likely to be tossed into the fray in the days and weeks ahead) spreading over the border into mainland China.

Unfortunately for Beijing’s rulers, Hong Kong’s free press, independent judiciary and generally unimpeded education system have given rise to a new breed of unwavering Chinese activists who, brought up to think independently and critically, are determined not only to zealously defend Hong Kong’s basic freedoms of speech, press, assembly, religion  – as guaranteed in the Basic Law and related international conventions – but also, confronted with economic marginalisation and assimilation with mainland China, to fight for their own economic survival.

This is just the beginning of the struggle to defend Hong Kong’s distinctiveness, otherwise ‘Asia’s World City’ is in danger of becoming just like any other city in China.

Ich bin ein hongkonger.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building in Central, Hong Kong, the heart of the Umbrella Revolution

Leave a comment

Filed under China, Hong Kong, Politics

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station - local and european elections- 23 may 2014 - China Dubai Hong Kong Thailand dublin votingFrom China (where the masses only get to vote for one party) to Hong Kong (where despite promises of universal suffrage to be introduced in 2017, Hong Kong citizens’ hopes of electing their own Chief Executive by one man one vote is diametrically contrary to the principles of China’s one party authoritarian system. In other words the Chief Executive will always be a hand-picked puppet of Beijing) to Bangkok (at 2.00 am on the 22nd of May, as I was sitting on the airplane in Bangkok Airport during transit Thailand’s military was setting in motion the usurpation of an elected Government, its nineteenth Coup d’Etat) in Dubai (which like China has embraced unbridled capitalism without political freedom), before finally arriving on Tuesday 19th May in an Ireland on the home stretch in the local and European elections campaigns, with the majority of people due to vote three days later.

The last time I voted was in the February 2011 General Election. Following the abysmal mess created by the Fianna Fail / Green Party coalition, I had made a decision to join the Fine Gael Party (I still have the official welcome letter signed by local TD Sean Barrett the Ceann Comhairle, or the speaker of Dáil Éireann). I even met Enda Kenny on his whirlwind visit to Stradbrook Rugby Club to drum up the party faithful Over a cocktail sausage he took my business card, put it inside his breast pocket and said he would be in touch in a few weeks to talk about China (It didn’t register at the time that, although he was to become the next Taoiseach, he was merely just another politician focused on the corridors of power, taking the populist line on anything and everything to get into office).

Anyway, never heard from anyone in Fine Gael again.  So be it.

And so to 23rd May.

Should I vote?

Yes. All people have a right to have a say in what is happening in Ireland. The alternative is a China, Hong Kong, Thailand or Dubai. What would happen if everyone decided not to vote? Where would Ireland’s democracy go? Who would run the country? What type of political system would Ireland have?

Does it matter?

Take the France versus Ireland rugby match setting last 15th March in Paris where Ireland, up against a ferocious French onslaught, held on to win 22:20 and be crowned RBS Six Nations Champions.  One Irish voice cheering alone wouldn’t have been heard, but when all those Irish fans who travelled to Paris collectively stood and shouted “Come on Ireland!”, then it mattered!

Perhaps my vote on its own isn’t going to matter, but I choose to cast my vote because I support Ireland’s democracy, our ability to elect the people who govern us, our right to be free, and our right to show the Government what we think of them.  People power.

Almost 100 years ago, in 1916 a group of Irishmen, including my grandfather, Dr. Michael William O’Reilly, and women stood up to British rule in Ireland and declared an Irish Republic. They were opposed by many of their peers. Seven years later Ireland had a free state. Change can happen.

Around the world on a daily basis people risk their lives by fighting and struggling to earn the right a vote, something which many Irish people take for granted, while past generations of Irishmen and women suffered to get us such a right.

Indifference changes nothing.

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station - local and european elections- 23 may 2014 - China Dubai Hong Kong Thailand ireland

Who will I vote for?

It has been a fairly brutal three years since the 2011 general election. Sure after the shambolic financial mess created by the previous Fianna Fail / Green Party Coalition Government, austerity cuts needed to be made.

However, I don’t like the way the country is being fixed. Inflicting crippling austerity, property tax, and water charges, flawed cuts and knee-jerk decisions, instigated by an increasingly aloof Government / political elite, have had a huge negative bearing on the lives of so many ordinary citizens, particularly the middle classes.

I no longer trust the establishment parties and whips that have caused Ireland so much destruction, while Sinn Fein will never get my vote. This time I will have the pleasure of not putting a number beside the Fine Gael and Labour candidates. Instead, I intend to vote for those independent (and People Before Profit) candidates who can really irritate, by constantly nipping at the heels of, the establishment.

It’s time to overhaul what is a worn out political system, but nothing will change if people do not get off their backsides and vote.

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station - local and european elections- 23 may 2014 - China Dubai Hong Kong Thailand

Leave a comment

Filed under China, Hong Kong, Indifference, Ireland, Niallism, Politics

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)’ https://nialljoreilly.com/2012/12/07/john-bernard-patrick-byrne-barney/ – “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: http://www.mansell.com/pow_resources/camplists/sendai/sendai_2/sendai-2-03-ROCHA.jpg  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 @gwulo.com]

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: www.mansell.com)

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: http://www.mansell.com)

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

1 Comment

Filed under 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, Allied POW, Barney Byrne, Family History, History, Hong Kong, Inspirational, Ireland, Irish, James J Byrne, Japan, Japanese Imperial Army, Kathryn O'Reilly, Kilcullen, Photography, POW, Second World War

Righting a wrong: No evidence that Kennedy-Skipton was a Japanese collaborator during the occupation of Hong Kong

It seems the impact of Derry-born Irishman George Stacey Kennedy-Skipton’s (c 1898-1982) working for the Japanese is exaggerated at best, considering his focus was on agricultural activity aimed at dealing with a rapidly escalating food crisis. Everything written so far points to him being the victim of a grudge on the part of Franklin Gimson (the Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong who was Kennedy-Skipton’s direct report), who had powerful enough friends to besmirch Kennedy-Skipton’s  reputation. Loyalty, or the lack of, regarding Colonial Office servants is the key issue here, not collaboration with the Japanese. Kennedy-Skipton (K-S) was the only Colonial Office cadet to avoid capture and who stayed in Japanese occupied Hong Kong

I would also add that many Irish Free State passport holders (including my uncle) working for the Colonial Office, trading houses, etc, joined the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (HKVDC) and defending the territory with distinction. Kennedy-Skipton’s neutrality didn’t go down at all well with volunteers who put their life on the line defending Hong Kong, while up on The Peak he was flying the Irish flag declaring his neutrality to the Japanese. As to why he was flying the flag, and who he was protecting in his house was unknown and at the time deemed irrelevant.

A reference in the POW diary written by my uncle “Barney”  John Bernard Patrick Byrne “Diary of War: Private John Bernard Patrick Byrne “Barney” (HKVDC #4732) – Irish Prisoner of the Japanese in Shamshuipo and Sendai (1941-1945)” (Source: https://nialljoreilly.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/niall-and-barney/) throws some light on the depth of feeling suffering POWs would have felt towards K-S and other ‘third nationals’, or neutrals.

Righting a wrong No real evidence that Kennedy-Skipton was a Japanese collaborator during the occupation of Hong Kong - The Blarney stone

The Blarney Stone: According to legend whoever kisses the Blarney Stone is gifted with eloquence and persuasiveness.

In it Barney refers to a trial of French traitors as giving “us Hong Kong men some ideas about a similar purge when we get back there. And we won’t have any shortage of candidate for the rope provided the local loyal Chinese haven’t forestalled us!”

A number of posts in Second World War related Hong Kong groups’ online recount the experiences of families who sheltered in his neutral house. None refer to him informing the Japanese. Far from it, he saved them from the Japanese.

What is curious are the secret files he claim to have discovered which hadn’t been destroyed. There is no evidence he informed the Japanese about the contents of these file. In fact, he went to extraordinary efforts to inform the British Government of their existence.

However, the receipt by the British government of the message relating such information would have been preceded by the Franklin Gimson / British Army Aid Group (BAAG) grapevine noting that one of their own had gone over to the Japs, and was therefore branded a collaborator…. which was pretty much the same label everyone who claimed neutrality and worked for the Japanese occupation government was tarnished with.

In conclusion, in my there is no evidence that K-S was a collaborator in any shape or form. He just chose to declare his Irish neutrality, at a time when he was working for the colonial government and most of the Irish, and his fellow colonial cadets living in Hong Kong were fighting for Hong Kong and subsequently imprisoned. As such he was effectively disowned.

I recall a conversation I had in the late 1990s with an eminent Hong Kong LEGCO legislator on the very sensitive subject of collaborators. Naturally given the depth of rage, anyone, irrespective of race and background, who had by hook or by crook avoided the hardship of the Japanese occupation, profited from the turmoil, or who had recently returned to Hong Kong from Macau to be part of and benefit from the Post War reconstruction effort would have been branded a traitor. In order to maintain law and order, and perhaps keep the degree of treachery under wraps, the colonial government would have taken a conscious decision to classify the wartime records of many collaborators.

And while mentioning by hook or by crook there is a question mark regarding whether or not Kennedy-Skipton actually carried an Irish Free State passport which would have been the basis for his Irish neutrality. He may not have held an Irish Free State passport.  At the time of the Irish Free State people living and born in the six counties of Northern Ireland, of which Derry was part, would not have Irish Citizenship. Probably he just exploited an opportunity to outfox the Japanese.

To the Japanese it didn’t matter if the Irish were from north or south Ireland, they still treated them as neutrals.  Kennedy-Skipton (K-S) January 1943 escape to China may well have coincided with the Japanese finally grasping the intricacies Ireland’s political boundaries.

Additional reading: http://gwulo.com/node/12900?page=1

Leave a comment

Filed under 1943, Hong Kong, Ireland, Second World War

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: http://www.thepost.ie/themarket/china-in-your-hands-54873.html), 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.

Sources:
The Sunday Business Post-

http://www.thepost.ie/themarket/china-in-your-hands-54873.html

Xinhua-

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-04/29/c_13851456.htm

Accurate China Blog http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=1whhJh5C+5Y=

Niall O’Reilly

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

Tel: +353 1271 1830 / +86 15257194468

http://www.accuratelimited.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Accurate China Business Services, Accurate China Insight, Ireland, Irish

China – Under The Hood: Irritated Chinese Immigration Officer asks a thought-provoking question

How to unintentionally make a Chinese Immigration Officer lose face?

How to unintentionally make a Chinese Immigration Officer lose face?

He is wearing a uniform that in China suggests a pretense of authority and power, which he seems determined to exercise.  Noisily exhaling he’s flicking through the pages of my passport with that contemptuous self-important look which always makes me feel so grateful I have a foreign passport.

“Why you come China many time?”,  the eye-balling Immigration Officer challenges me.

He looks quite irritated, which I guess is understandable because I’ve made him lose face in front of his superiors. A team of three officers have just helped him to identify the apostrophe ” ” key on his Chinese keyboard….  Irish family names [O’Reilly, O’Donnell, O’Maolcraoibhe,  O’Seachnasaighare, etc..] are a novice Chinese Immigration Officer‘s worst nightmare.

The Irish Surname - A China Immigration Officer's worst nightmare

The Irish Surname – A China Immigration Officer’s worst nightmare

His question provokes a chain of thoughts as I reflect a little too deeply for a fitting answer.

“That’s a really good question”, says I…… …. clutching my passport and briskly walking in the direction of Hong Kong Immigration.

Even if there are a few hundred people in front of me patiently waiting in line, this has to me my favourite queue in the world… One-by-one Chop!… Chop!… Chop! …  and finally seventh heaven. Works every time!

Hong Kong just feels so different (mindset, style, colours, passion) and so Niall!

Always great to be back in fragrant Hong Kong for a recharge.

Irritated Chinese Immigration Officer asks a thought-provoking question

“Why you come China many time?”

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011, China, Hong Kong, Travel

Accurate China Insight: If your business is product sourcing: How competitive is the ‘Made in China’ brand?

Despite the Chinese Government’s past success at restraining inflation, accelerating food, fuel, raw material and labour costs have resulted in a widely held belief that average inflation rates of 4 to 5 percent are here to stay in China, at least over the over the next decade.

Which raises the question: With rises in wage and manufacturing costs set to be the norm is China still competitive as a product source for Ireland’s importers? Accurate China Insight: If your business is product sourcing: How competitive is the 'Made in China' brand?

Ireland’s importers are right to exercise caution when sourcing from China.  However, China still has much working in its favour:

  1. China is politically stable, and such stability is good for business
  2. Low cost countries surrounding China are also weathering an inflation contagion, with inflation rates in Vietnam, India and Pakistan increasing at a much faster rate.

June 2011 Inflation Rates:

Vietnam 20.8%

Pakistan 13.3%

India 8.7%

China 6.4%

Indonesia 5.5%

Malaysia 4.6%

Philippines 4.6%

Thailand 4.1%

(Sources: Respective country central banks) 

3.  Production costs in China are still low, despite rising costs.

4. Skills levels are generally high. While China’s factories could be said to be still at an early stage in their execution of innovative manufacturing techniques, their production processes are still well ahead of similar production operations in surrounding low cost countries.

5.  The striking effects of the ‘Clustering’ in China’s three economic powerhouses [Pearl River Delta (from Hong Kong to Guangzhou), Yangtze River Delta (Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai) and the area around Beijing and Tianjin] which have resulted in the construction of excellent infrastructure, a concentrated material supply chain, and an experienced and skilled labour force.  There is no evidence of such a clustering blend being prevalent in other surrounding low-cost countries.

6.  Productivity and industry familiarity.  While the costs of labour and logistics, as well as labour availability, are driving up factory output costs along China’s coastal rim, cities in central and China, such as Wuhan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Zhengzhou and Hefei, and their surrounding provinces, are much more cost competitive with respect to the manufacture of products in which the value-added and process complexity is low.  Meanwhile, the coastal manufacturing hubs, with their knowledge of particular manufacturing industry sectors, are becoming more focused on complex, skill intensive factory production.  In surrounding low cost countries such instances of high productivity levels and industry knowledge are limited.

The biggest issue for Ireland’s importers relates to fluctuating oil prices and their impact on the cost of shipping products sourced from China to Ireland, which is a worldwide occurrence.

Source:

Niall O’Reilly

Director for China, Irish Exporters Association

Accurate Ireland – China Business Advisers – Products & Services Sourcing | Business Development Consultancy

Tel: +353 1271 1830 / +86 15257194468

http://www.accuratelimited.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Accurate China Business Advisers, Accurate China Insight, Accurate Group, Business, China, Economy, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Irish Exporters Association, Suzhou, trade

Accurate China Insight: Entering The Dragon’s Den

Huge Opportunities lie waiting for Irish businesses in China, but know your market

From Ireland’s ‘Business and Finance’ magazine’s ‘Enterprise Insight’ supplement, Q2 2008 edition, by Niall O’ Reilly

The world’s second largest economy China, is now the largest market in Asia, and outside the Euro Zone only second to the USA for Ireland’s exports. According to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) exports to mainland China (excluding the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) for the first two months of 2008 totalled €324.6 million, a year-on-year increase of 112%.  Exports to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region over the same period reached €110 million.

 

In the face of the current global economic downturn, a difficult exchange rate and other cost base factors, including the flight of manufacturing processes to low overhead, low material cost countries in Asia and Eastern Europe, as our manufacturers struggle to maintain productivity, the rise in our exports to China is a major achievement and presents convincing evidence that Ireland is at last starting to hit the mark in China business. Given that over the past decade the development of our economic and trade relations with China has been a top priority the Irish Government will maintain that its Asia Strategy, with its particular emphasis on China, is the key reason for  this positive development. What the CSO figures do not reveal, however, is how indigenous Irish businesses are performing compared to multinationals businesses based in Ireland.

 

China’s rise to become Ireland’s eight largest export destination is directly linked to its own export prowess and the craving for technology, infrastructure equipment and knowhow by Chinese enterprises that cannot be satisfied by domestic suppliers. From this perspective it is not surprising that the majority of our exports to China should consist of the information communications technology, machinery and equipment China requires to fuel its heady growth. Buoyed by breakneck 7% to 8% GDP growth in China over the past 10 years, a trend that shows little sign of abating, so long as businesses based in Ireland stay ahead of the technology curve and maintain their competitiveness exports to China will only continue to expand, thus strengthening China’s position as a major export market for Irish produce.

 

Looking ahead, where are the China market opportunities for Irish exporters?

 

Ireland commands a very strong position in the world trade rankings for internationally traded services. Recently published statistics by the World Trade Organisation 2006 show Ireland as the 12th largest services exporter, commanding a 2.6% share of world trade, while services exports now account for 35% of our total export trade. China has only opened up the service market to any great extent over the past four years and there are clearly significant additional market opportunities now for Irish service exports in engineering consultancy, aviation services, information communication technology, education and tourism services. The latter two service sectors are particularly significant given the rise in the spending power of the Chinese consumer.

 

According to the China National Bureau of Statistics, in 2007, China’s retail spending rose 16.8 percent to 8.92 trillion Yuan (US$1.24 trillion), thus adding credence to a widely held view that Chinese demand will this year for the first time become the main driver of world economic growth, with the increase in its domestic spending in current dollar terms contributing more to global growth than US domestic demand. As such, Irish suppliers should be relishing lucrative domestic sales opportunities presented by an increasingly affluent population.

 

Located two hours south of Shanghai is the prosperous city of Hangzhou, Marco Polo’s ‘paradise on earth’, which Forbes ™ Magazine has repeatedly rated as China’s premier business centre. With a registered population of 6.7 million inhabitants and an urban per capita income of RMB21,689, Hangzhou provides the ideal glimpse into the phenomenal growth in the purchasing power of China’s increasingly affluent middle class.  Not only do Bentley, Maserati, Ferrari, and Prada showrooms do a thriving business here, even more remarkable is the thirst to travel abroad whether as tourists, with Paris and London high on the list of preferred destinations, or graduate students from the third ranked university in China, Hangzhou’s Zhejiang University, seeking further education in the best schools in Europe and the USA. 

 

As individual prosperity rises so too are people becoming increasingly concerned about their living conditions. Recognising such anxieties, and looking ahead to population growth of close to 20 per cent over the next five years, in addition to the huge infrastructure building projects already underway, the Hangzhou Municipal People’s Government is actively encouraging projects focused on providing fuel efficiency, cleaner water, better sanitation, and power generation, all of which whether in material or service form present significant opportunities for Irish suppliers. 

 

As patterns of consumption change, to reflect those found in wealthier countries, such as higher levels of meat consumption, the opportunities for Irish suppliers in the development of both the food ingredients market, such as diary fats and proteins, standard cereal and grain products and flours, vegetable oils, or standardised high-quality meat products, and markets for the products of large scale cropping and livestock activities, become all the more apparent. In 2005, Kerry Group quick to seize the market opportunity established its state-of-the-art China manufacturing, technical and administrative facilities in Hangzhou.

 

However, remove the rose-tinted glasses and it quickly becomes apparent that in China the size of the opportunity is only matched by the difficulty in weighing up the risk, as the great challenges for any Irish supplier in entering what is still a relatively immature market quickly become apparent.  China’s rapid growth since its 1978 opening to the world has not necessarily meant greater transparency.

 

Making sound business decisions can be very difficult when there is little timely information available, and when the information available is either unreliable, or misleading.  What’s more, a simple misunderstanding of local business practices, which can be very different from what is taken for granted in Ireland, can harm efforts to develop solid business relationships and leverage them into strategic opportunities. As Kerry, CRH and Glen Dimplex have found, there is an inherent need for proximity to the customer base  for supplying many services. However, this forces small and medium exporter into the high cost of establishing a commercial presence in the China.

 

Rather than going it alone, working with either the Irish Exporters Association, Enterprise Ireland, or some of the more experienced homegrown market-entry consultancy practices with experts based on the ground in China, and their ability to access key business and government decision-makers,  will greatly assist Irish businesses in getting the most out of the unprecedented opportunities available in China.”

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Product & Business Development (Export, Source, Import, Partner Due Diligence) Consultants doing business in China for over 20 years

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Accurate China Insight, Business, China Ireland, Niall O'Reilly, research, writing