Chinese vice president Xi Jinping has pledged reliable trade with Ireland as Taoiseach Enda Kenny prepares to visit the People's Republic next month.
The future president praised the Irish work ethic and confirmed that both nations will continue working closely together to strengthen investment ties.
"China is a reliable friend for Ireland and other European countries," said Mr Xi, while addressing an Ireland-China forum of 350 business delegates in Dublin today.
The Taoiseach must await a formal invitation from the Chinese government before officially accepting Mr Xi's invitation.
A government source confirmed that while Mr Kenny is keen to make the trip towards the end of March, he must adhere to a formal process in which China extends an official invitation.
Only then will details of his trip be made public.
Mr Xi said he is confident the Taoiseach's visit will deepen bi-lateral relations between the countries, which could boost future investment and lead to significant job creation.
"The Chinese government will continue to encourage investment in Ireland and we welcome more Irish companies to invest in China," the Vice President went on.
"Irish business people are known for their hard work and enterprising spirit."
He added that while Chinese investment in Ireland has been a late starter, it has been growing fast.