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Ireland has historically tended towards independence in foreign military policy, thus it is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and has a longstanding policy of military neutrality.According to the Irish Defence Forces, the neutrality policy has helped them to be successful in their contributions to United Nations peace-keeping missions since 1960 (in the Congo Crisis) and subsequently in Cyprus, Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina.In recent years due to the rapid expansion of the Chinese economy, China is becoming a key trade partner of Ireland, with over bn worth of bilateral trade between the two countries in 2010.In July 2013, the Irish Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade were invited to China by the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on a trade mission to boost both investment and political ties between the two countries.Ireland has raised its concerns in the area of human rights with China on a number of occasions.
In 1998, both states signed the Good Friday Agreement and now co-operate closely to find a solution to the region's problems.The use of Shannon Airport as a stop-over point for US forces en route to Iraq has caused domestic controversy in Ireland. government to appoint a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland to help with the Northern Ireland peace process.Opponents of this policy brought an unsuccessful High Court case against the government in 2003, arguing that this use of Irish airspace violated Irish neutrality. During the 2008 presidential campaign in the United States, however, Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama was reported as having questioned the necessity to keep a US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.Ireland and the United Kingdom have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area.However, neither have concluded similar agreements with Iceland or Denmark (on behalf of the Faroe Islands) and the matter remains under negotiation.