Chinese President Xi Jinping met separately with Egyptian President Al-Sisi, Emir Tamim of Qatar and Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates at the Great Hall of the People on May 5 to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. In January, six foreign ministers from the Middle East region - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Turkey and Iran - and the Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) also visited China in quick succession. As China and the Middle East countries become closer, the cooperation between the two sides promises broader prospects.
China has a long history of friendship with Middle Eastern countries, free from historical grievances and real conflicts. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1956, China and the Middle East countries have treated each other with sincerity and watched over each other in the vicissitudes of international storms for more than 60 years, and are reliable partners who have stood the test of time.
On the evening of February 3rd, dozens of LED screens at the square of “Riyadh City Avenue” in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh played a video with the theme of celebrating the Chinese New Year. The video is mainly in red color, with images of ancient Chinese buildings, red lanterns, as well as the words “Happy New Year of the Tiger” in English and Chinese. This is the first time the Saudi capital Riyadh lit up the “Chinese red” to celebrate the Chinese New Year. (Photographed by Wang Haizhou, reporter of Xinhua News Agency)
At a time when the changes of the century and the epidemic are intertwined, China and the Middle East countries are overcoming difficulties together and moving forward hand in hand. Cooperation in various fields has made great progress, reflecting the depth and strength of the friendship.
Economically, China and the Middle East are highly complementary with strong eagerness to cooperate. China has been the largest trade partner of Arab countries. In 2020, China-Arab trade volume reaches nearly 240 billion USD.
In recent years, countries in the Middle East have made positive progress in exploring their respective development paths and launched a series of plans and visions suitable for respective situations, such as Egypt’s Vision 2030, Qatar’s National Vision 2030 and the UAE’s Development Strategy for the Next 50 Years. These plans are highly compatible with the Belt and Road Initiative. The construction of Egypt’s new administrative capital, the China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, the China-Arab (UAE) Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Park, and the Qatar Water Supply Project are successful paradigms of the cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative and the respective development plans of Middle Eastern countries. Driven by the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s cooperation with Middle Eastern countries is expanding in fields.
The Middle East is one of the major regions for China’s energy imports, and the cooperation between the two sides in the energy sector has become a model of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. In recent years, both sides have stepped up energy transformation and strengthened cooperation in exploring clean energy utilization. From the China-Egypt National Joint Laboratory of Renewable Energy, Qatar’s green and intelligent water-saving irrigation technology to the UAE’s clean coal project China’s technological cooperation with the Middle East is fruitful. In addition, 5G, big data, artificial intelligence and other high-tech domains are also expected to become the new momentum for the cooperation between the two sides.
Perennially, the Middle East region has been suffering from the geopolitical game of hegemonism and confrontation of alliances, and urgently entails positive energy that is conducive to promoting peace and development. China has always actively supported the Middle East countries in enhancing their strategic autonomy and encouraged them to get rid of the interference resulted from major countries’ geopolitical competition, carry forward the spirit of independence and explore a development path with Middle Eastern characteristics. In the Middle East, China does not seek its own interests, does not engage in geopolitical rivalries and does not divide spheres of influence. Inversely, China upholds the spirit of equal and friendly partnership, respects the independent choice of regional countries, and is willing to make “China’s contribution” to the peaceful development of the Middle East through sincere cooperation.
In the face of the unprecedented changes in the past century, China and the Middle East countries will continue their historical friendship, deepen their partnership, look into the future for all-aspect cooperation, and make greater contributions to promoting world peace and development and constructing a community with a shared future of mankind.