China, Arab states agree to develop strategic partnership

2018-07-10 21:45:26 | From:GlobalTimes

  China and Arab states have agreed to upgrade cooperation with a series of measures covering the economy, energy and technology on Tuesday, a move that shows the structure of China's strategy in the Middle East and brings it to a new height, Chinese experts said.

  Chinese President Xi Jinping told the eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) that the upgrade creates a "future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and common development," the Xinhua News Agency reported.

  The meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing gathered Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, along with foreign ministers or other ministerial officials from 21 Arab countries, as well as the secretary general of the Arab League.

  Xi said the strategic partnership will be the new historical starting point for friendly cooperation between China and Arab countries.

  It is the third time Xi has articulated China's policy to the Arab world, indicating that China attaches great importance and gives full support to developing ties with the Arab countries and construction of the CASCF, Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong told a press briefing on Friday.

  "The atmosphere at the meeting was very friendly," Zhu Weilie, a Middle East expert at the Shanghai International Studies University who also attended the meeting, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "Beijing proposes unity, therefore all Arab countries could gather here, including Qatar, which has been absent from some events in the Middle East."

  Many Arab countries have influence in almost all international organizations and China has more than 20 million Muslims, making China's increased cooperation with the Arab world a natural step forward that is recognized by all sides, Zhu noted.

  "It is the best time for China and Arab countries to upgrade their cooperation," Li Weijian, a professor at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

  "With the great changes in the international situation, Arab countries have been leaning more toward the east, while China has more capability and resolve to offer practical help," Li noted.

  China has offered to provide a $20 billion US line of credit to Arab nations that are in need of help reported Xinhua, adding the fund will be used on projects that provide large employment opportunities and stable benefits.

  Li said that China has supported the development and management of the Middle East, with aim of helping the stability of the region. "It is China using its way to resolve issues in the Middle East," Li said.

  Zhu noted that"China can be active and effective by providing resources that help reforms in the Middle East. We will negotiate, construct and share together."

  China is the second largest trading partner of the Arab states and has signed nonbinding memorandum of understanding on theBelt and Roadinitiative with nine Arab countries.

  Beyond oil and gas

  Tuesday's meeting covered almost all areas of cooperation. Along with energy and trading, the two sides will deepen communication in areas such as technology, communications and art.

  The two sides will promote an "oil and gas plus" mode, under which oil, gas, nuclear and clean energy will be developed, according to Xinhua.

  An information communications center was also officially founded. The fourth Arab Arts Festival will be initiated in China, according to Xinhua.

  Zhu said that since a large portion of the population in the Middle East is young, fostering new talent is also a key aspect.

  The trend of broader cooperation is natural, as the Arab countries want to diversify beyond their oil and gas resources, and China has much to offer in many aspects, Li noted.

  "This shows that China, as a big country in international affairs, is playing a leading role," Zhu noted.

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