Li samples products of an Irish farm

Updated: 2015-05-18 07:41

By ZHAO YINAN in Shannon, Ireland(China Daily Latin America)

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Li samples products of an Irish farm

Premier Li Keqiang visited Garvey Farm in Shannon, Ireland, with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on May 17, 2015.[Photo/Xinhua]

A box of tea grown in Premier Li Keqiang's hometown in Anhui province and a set of DVDs featuring hilarious stories of the Monkey King, a fictional figure in traditional Chinese literature, were among the gifts prepared by the Chinese premier and his wife for the Garvey family at an Irish farm on Sunday.

Cathal Garvey and his family received the Chinese premier and his wife, who were on a stopover visit to Ireland before a trip to Latin America, in the living room of the 250-year-old Garvey Farm.

Garvey treated Chinese guests with home-made bread, cheese and beef, of which the Chinese premier took a bite and said the good taste had reassured him of the quality and safety of Irish agricultural products.

China is "a major agri-economy at a critical stage to transform into a modernized, better-managed and standardized development pattern", Li said as he sat down with the Garvey family after taking a tour of the farm to see the cattle and the quality-control system.

"China has become the fastest-growing market of Irish dairy products, as Chinese consumers are more aware of the quality and safety of agricultural products," Li said.

The interaction with local farmers at Garvey Farm is the latest case in which the Chinese premier is striving to increase personal interaction with foreign leaders to build trust and push forward bilateral relations.

Li accompanied German Chancellor Angela Merkel to a small supermarket in Berlin in October, after hours of bilateral governmental consultations during his visit to the European country.

The unscheduled shopping made headlines in local media the following day, with pictures showing the two leaders holding baskets, shopping for groceries.

In Russia last year, Li attended a private dinner at Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's villa after a bilateral talk. At the dinner, Medvedev treated Li with dishes that he had especially picked for Li.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the remarks made by government leaders during an official meeting are usually seen as the most authoritative statements on a particular issue, while at non-official meetings, leaders are able to exchange views in a relatively casual manner, which may not necessarily be complete and final.

On multinational occasions, the meetings are usually interlaced, held based on the schedule of leaders.

"An official meeting requires more time and the presence of cabinet members related to issues to be discussed on the meeting, while on informal occasions, leaders can be more flexible, especially when their schedule is tight," he said.

Wang Fan, director of the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, said that as the Chinese leaders have been more confident and tactful on diplomatic events, they are increasingly taking informal meetings as a chance to build personal friendships with foreign leaders to promote trust.

Government leaders appear at official meetings as representatives of their own countries, while their personalities and habits are more obvious during informal interactions, such as at a dinner with family members or during a leisurely walk.

"Through these interactions, (it becomes) easier to know each other as a person, instead of a government leader, so as to build trust," Wang said. "Friendship between the top leaders of two countries can always help bilateral relations."