Historic connections 历史联系

Northern Ireland’s historic links to China stretch back centuries and are rooted in trade and diplomatic ties. Our exciting explorations begin with the fascinating journey of Lord McCartney’s diplomatic mission to China. The 1793 mission marked one of the earliest official interactions between Britain and China, and in many ways set the course of future relations. Hong Kong in particular has a close relationship with Sir Henry Pottinger from Belfast becoming its first Governor. 

Today, these historic links continue to shape bilateral relations, fostering cooperation in various fields such as education, business, and cultural exchange, contributing to a rich tapestry of connections between the two countries.


Born around 1690 in Londonderry his family came from Sterling, Scotland during the Plantation. Cowan used these Ulster-Scots family connections to enter the international wine trade before joining the East India Company.
Rising rapidly there, becoming Governor of Bombay from 1729 – 1734, he excelled as a private trader. He pioneered trade with China amassing a fortune which was inherited though marriage by the Stewart family of Mountstewart, Co. Down.

1690 年左右出⽣于伦敦德 ⾥,他的家⼈来⾃种植园时期的苏格兰斯特林。考恩在加⼊东印度公司之前,利⽤这些阿尔斯特苏格兰家族的关系进⼊了国际葡萄酒贸 易。他在那⾥迅速崛起,于 1729 年⾄ 1734 年间担任孟 买总督。他是⼀位出⾊的私 ⼈商⼈。他开创了与中国的贸易,积累了⼀笔财富,这笔财富是通过唐恩郡芒特斯图尔特的斯图尔特家族的联姻继承的。

Born in 1737, at Lisanoure Co. Antrim he was descended from an old Scottish family, the Macartneys of Auchinleck, which settled in Ulster in 1649.
He was the leading British statesman and diplomat of his day. In 1793, he led the first diplomatic mission to China, attempting to establish formal trade relations. The mission exposed the cultural and economic differences between Britain, and China, which saw no need for innovations or imports from the West. The Macartney Mission set the stage for future conflict between these two great empires.

他于 1737 年出⽣于安特⾥姆利萨努尔郡,是⼀个古⽼的苏格兰奥
⾦莱克⻢戛尔尼家族的后裔,该家族于 1649 年在阿尔斯特定 居。他是当时英国的主要政治家和外交家。 1793年,他率领第⼀个外交使团访问中国,试图建⽴正式的贸易关系。这次访问暴露了英国和中国之间的⽂化和经济差异,英国和中国认为不需要创新或从西⽅进⼝。⻢戛尔尼使团为这两个伟⼤帝国之间的未来冲突埋下了隐患



Born in 1789 at Mount Pottinger, Belfast, he entered the army of the East India Company in 1804. A gifted linguist, with a sense of adventure, he excelled as a soldier before becoming a colonial administrator.
In 1841 he was appointed superintendent of British trade in China just as the First Opium War broke out. He led the British military response and negotiated the Treaty of Nanking which opened trading ports and ceded Hong Kong. Pottinger became the first Governor of Hong Kong in 1843 ensuring it developed as a commercial centre.

他于 1789 年出⽣于⻉尔法斯特的
波廷格⼭,于 1804 年加⼊东印度公司军队。他是⼀位才华横溢的 语⾔学家,具有冒险精神,在成为殖⺠地管理者之前,他曾是⼀名出⾊的⼠兵。 1841年,第⼀次鸦⽚战争爆发时,他被任命为英国对华贸易总督。他领导了英国的军事反应,并谈判签订了开放贸易港⼝并割让⾹港的《南京条约》。 1843 年,砵典乍成为⾹港

Born in Portadown in 1835, Hart was a British diplomat who served as Inspector General of China’s Imperial Maritime Customs Service for 48 years. A key adviser to Chinese rulers, Hart modernised the customs system, and contributed to China’s economic development as he generated one third of China’s revenue. He served the Chinese Government loyally, spoke Chinese fluently and had a real love for the Chinese people. This was reciprocated when the Emperor invited him to become ‘Commander-in-Chief of China’s army’. However Hart felt he better served China by remaining in his current post and offering advice in the conduct of foreign relations.
On retirement he became Pro- Chancellor of Queen’s University where his records and the ‘Empress of China’s Silver’ collection are held.

哈特于 1835 年出⽣于波塔当,是⼀位英国外交官,曾担任中国海关总署督察
⻓达 48 年。作为中国统治者的重要顾问,赫德实现了海关体系的现代化,并为中国的经济发展做出了贡献,因为他创造了中国三分之⼀的收⼊。他忠诚地为中国政府服务,说得⼀⼝流利的汉 语,热爱中国⼈⺠。作为回报,皇帝邀请赫德担任“中国军队总司令”,但赫德认为,留在⽬前的职位上并在外交关系


Cultural connections 文化融合和

The cultural connections we have explored revolve around food, fashion and the fusion of music and traditions. Despite the distance between Northern Ireland and China we have found many points of connection. Our love of good food is one example where the cuisine of our two countries are brought together by a love of the humble potato, and a homely cup of tea. 


One of the great connections between China and Northern Ireland is a love of tea. The tea trade first brought the countries close through commerce, then culturally as tea customs were shared and developed. When a practice or object is important in a culture there are often many words, phrases and idioms developed around it.
The Chinese word for tea 茶 is pronounced differently in the
different varieties of Chinese, such as chá in Mandarin, zo and dzo in Wu Chinese, and ta and te in Min Chinese though it is written the same in them all. Ulster Scots or Ullans has its own word for tea ‘tay’, still heard in common phrases like “weet the tay” – add water to dry tea-leaves in the teapot; “a wee drap o tay” or “a wee cup o scad” or even “a wee cup a tae in yer han”.

中国和北爱尔兰之间最重要的联系之⼀就是对茶的热爱。茶叶贸易⾸先通过商业拉近了各国的距离,然后在⽂化上如茶习俗得以共享和发展。当⼀种实践或对象在⼀种⽂化中很重要时,通常会围绕它开发出许多单词、短语和习语。 “茶”⼀词在不同汉语变体中的发⾳不同,例如普通话中的“chá”,吴语中的“zo”和“dzo”,闽语中的“ta”和“te”,尽管它们的 写法都相同。
阿尔斯特苏格兰⼈或乌兰斯⼈有⾃⼰的茶词“tay”,在诸如“weet the
tay”之类的常⻅短语中仍然可以听到——向茶壶中的⼲茶叶加⽔; “a wee drap o tay”或“a wee cup o scad”甚⾄“a wee cup a tae in yer han”。

Both Ulster-Scots and Chinese culture are often defined by national dress and traditional methods of creating and wearing textiles.
Interestingly some of the oldest examples of tartan, usually associated with Scotland, have been found on the famed mummies of Tarim, in Xinjiang, China, dated from the late second millennium B.C.
The cloth fragments on these mummies are fascinating as they show close resemblance to Scottish tartan. The feel of the wool, the twill, the number of colour lines, and the same weave (diagonal twill) all show remarkable similarities with Scottish tartan.




Tatties or potatoes are a staple of the local diet in Northern Ireland. Our relationship with the humble potato has not always been easy with the legacy of the Potato Famine in the 1840s. Like Ireland the potato was introduced to China, and has thrived in the colder more mountainous areas of North China. Like here it has become an easy to produce, economic source of food for many ordinary people. Similarly different regions have developed different cooking methods for this highly versatile vegetable. China is actually the world’s biggest producer of potatoes and also the greatest consumer of potatoes due to their enormous population. Since 1991 China has led the world in terms of sown area and potato production. Since 2020, potatoes occupy about 4.6 million hectares (27% of the world’s cultivated area under crops), the crop exceeds 90 million tons (24% of the global production).

炸⽟⽶饼或⼟⾖是北爱尔兰当地饮⻝的主⻝。由于 1840 年代⻢铃薯饥荒的影响,我们与不起眼的⻢铃薯的关系并不总是那么融洽。
与爱尔兰⼀样,⻢铃薯也被引⼊中国,并在中国北⽅较寒冷的⼭区蓬勃发展。就像这⾥⼀样,它已成为许多普通⼈易于⽣产、经济的⻝物来 源。同样,不同的地区也为这种⽤途⼴泛的蔬菜开发了不同的烹饪⽅法。
⻢铃薯消费国。⾃1991年以来,中国在⻢铃薯播种⾯积和产量⽅⾯⼀直领先世界。 2020年以来,⻢铃薯种植⾯积约460万公顷(占世界农作物种植⾯积的27%),产量超过9000万吨(占全球产量的24%)。

!n recent years as communities have come together to share in their respective rich cultures and heritage many points of comparison and similarity have become apparent. Today in Belfast at Chinese New Year you are likely to hear the swirl of the pipes or the infectious rhymes of Scottish dancers alongside more traditional Chinese music and dance forms. The fusion of our drumming and dancing traditions has produced a rich local layer of talent and entertainment enjoyed by all.
Today the piping tradition is carried on in China by the Hong Kong Pipe Band and Beijing Military Pipe Band which proved a popular feature of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The role of the drum in both Chinese and Ulster Scots culture is similar with the wood and animal hide instrument evolving from a military context, becoming bigger and more ornately decorated over time. The drumming tunes and different regional styles are designed to evoke different emotions. In each culture the beat of the drum is often likened to a ‘heartbeat’ and symbolises strength, vitality and energy.

如今,管乐传统在中国由⾹港管乐队和北京军管乐队继承,成为 2022


Festival videos

Burns in China

Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet has an international appeal, with Burns night celebrated across
the globe. Belfast holds a unique place in this story as it was the first place his poetry was published outside of Scotland. With direct family connections and a fraternity of Burns fans, Ulster soon became foundational to the international spread of Burns.
Burns is one of the few foreign poets who have been translated continuously in China for over a century. His work has a relevance for China with its themes of struggle, democracy and revolution. It’s rural, romantic power has resonated with successive generations of ordinary Chinese people as well as finding favour with the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

苏格兰⺠族诗⼈罗伯特·伯恩斯 (Robert Burns) 具有国际影响⼒,全球各地都在庆祝伯恩斯之夜。⻉尔法斯特在这个故事中占有独特的地位,因为这是他的诗歌第⼀个在苏格兰以外出版的地⽅。凭借直接的家庭关系和伯恩斯粉丝的兄弟会,阿尔斯特很快成为伯恩斯国际传播的基础。

Listen to the famous Burns poem.

Burns was introduced to China by Lu Xun a writer and revolutionary described by Mao Zedong as the “chief commander of China’s Cultural Revolution”. Su Manshu, was the first person to translate Burns’s ‘A Red, Red Rose’ into Chinese in 1908. The first book of Burns’s poetry in China was translated by Yuan Shuipai in 1944. He was later chosen to translate Mao Zedong’s poetry into English and became vice-minister of China’s Ministry of Culture.

Burns’s hatred of injustice, and poverty and his praise of revolution, as well as his patriotism and fighting spirit fitted well with China as it developed. His poetry was studied in universities, and even became the march song for Chinese soldiers in the war against Japanese invasion.
In 1959 for the 200th anniversary of Burns’s birth, Professor Wang Zuoliang published a collection of Burns’s poems in Beijing. The Oxford University educated Vice-President of Beijing Foreign Studies University popularised Burns. His words inspired the folk-song movement behind the cultural ‘big leap’ in poetry. It inspired people of all backgrounds to write, and publish folk songs and poems. In this context, Wang Zuoliang’s translation of Burns’s poems became a powerful weapon in political discourse.
Even today ‘Auld Lang Syne’ features in in the soundtrack of ‘The Rebel’, a 2021 Chinese series commemorating the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party.



时⾄今⽇,《友谊地久天⻓》仍出现在 2021 年纪念中国共产党成⽴

My Heart’s in the Highlands
Tune: The Musket Salute

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer,
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth,
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

Farewell to the mountains, high-cover’d with snow,
Farewell to the straths and green vallies below,
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods,
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.


追逐着野⿅啊,跟踪着野狍, 我的⼼啊在⾼原,不管我何处漂摇再⻅吧,⾼原!再⻅吧,北⽅!你是品德的家园,是勇⼠的故乡;不管我流浪何处,不管何处浪迹,
⾼原的群⼭峻岭永远在我⼼底。再⻅吧,银装素裹的⾼⼭; 再⻅吧,绿⾊⼭⾕与河滩;
再⻅吧,奔腾的激流和轰鸣的瀑布 (李正栓 译)