FRI 15 - 2 - 2019
Jul 11, 2018
The Daily Star
China, Arab states joining hands for the Belt and Road
The eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, set to be held on July 10 in Beijing, China, will gather under the same roof Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the secretary-general of the League of Arab States, Lebanon’s Economy and Trade Minister Raed Khoury, and representatives of other Arab states, for a comprehensive and in-depth discussion on further consolidating the traditional Sino-Arab friendship.
The forum will focus on advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, jointly building a new type of international relations and forging a community with a shared future for mankind, enhancing the mechanism building of the CASCF as well as other international and regional issues of common interest.
Friendly exchanges between China and the Arab states have a long history that dates back millennia. China and the Arab people were bound together by the silk road, both on land and by sea, going back more than 2,000 years.
And with the establishment of the CASCF, especially since Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, China-Arab strategic cooperative relations have moved forward rapidly, with fruitful outcomes in cooperation in various fields. In addition, political mutual trust has been further enhanced.
In fact, political cooperation between China and Arab states has always been based on mutual respect and firm support for one another’s core interest, with China having established or elevated strategic partnership with nine Arab states to date.
Furthermore, economic and trade cooperation has been increasing on a daily basis, with China establishing the Joint Economic and Trade Committee with all the Arab states and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Consequently, China has become not only the second-largest collective trading partner for Arab states, but also the leading trading partner for 10 of these countries, with the trade volume between them and China surpassing $190 billion in 2017.
The flourishing cultural and people-to-people exchanges have also witnessed remarkable results, with China and Arab states having jointly held seven seminars on China-Arab Relations and Dialogue Between Civilizations, three Arab Arts Festivals, three China Arts Festivals and five China-Arab Friendship Conferences. China has also set up a total of 12 Confucius Institutes and five Confucius Classrooms in nine Arab countries.
Meanwhile, the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative continues to go forward. China has signed agreements on the joint promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative with nine Arab countries, among them Lebanon.
Furthermore, seven Arab states have been approved to become the founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with Lebanon recently being welcomed by the AIIB as a prospective member.
Lebanon is an important Arab state, and since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the country in 1971, our bilateral relations have progressed smoothly.
In recent years our cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative has yielded positive results, with China maintaining its position as Lebanon’s largest trade partner for most of the years since 2013.
In 2017, China and Lebanon signed the memorandum of understanding on jointly building the Belt and Road, which charted the course of our efforts to jointly construct the Belt and Road in a new era.
In 2018, our two countries signed a project deal to help Lebanon build its National Conservatory of Music, which will be a symbol of the friendship between the nations of China and Lebanon and a model for the Belt and Road Initiative.
China keeps a close eye on Lebanon’s national economic plans and is ready to discuss the alignment of development strategies under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The eighth ministerial meeting of the CASCF will be the first international event jointly held by China and Arab states after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China – of significant importance in the context of the advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative in a more in-depth manner – and will exert important influence on deepening China-Arab strategic cooperative relations. We firmly believe that, with joint efforts and earnest cooperation, we will build an even brighter future for China-Arab and China-Lebanon relations.
Wang Kejian is the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Lebanon.
For more information, visit CASCF’s official website: http://www.chinaarabcf.org/ara/.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 10, 2018, on page 3.
The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy
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