Martin McGuinness, the former deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland executive died on 21st March 2017 after a short illness. This illness had been diagnosed in December when Mr McGuinness had planned to visit China again. He had to cancel his visit on doctor’s orders. This was a great disappointment to him as he had a great fondness for China and was committed to developing a strong mutually beneficial relationship between NI and China.
He had previously visited China on two occasions in 2012 and 2013 visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. He and the former First Minister, Peter Robinson met with Vice Premier Liu Yandong during her visit to Belfast in 2012 and Mr. McGuinness gave a commitment to the Northern Ireland assembly to open an office in Beijing. The relationship with China was very important to him, He made a point of attending all events organized by the Chinese Consulate and Chinese community in Belfast and meeting with all Chinese government representatives.