Xinhua Headlines: China-Arab states cooperation accelerates building of community with shared future

by micheljwpn

* Since the establishment of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum 20 years ago, two-way trade has significantly increased, encompassing a wide range of sectors including energy, infrastructure, technology, and finance.

* As members of the Global South, China and Arab states have also carried out close cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

* China has always been giving support for issues concerning the Arab world, most important of which is the Palestinian issue, while the Arab countries have always been expressing their support for one-China policy publicly.

BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) — China and Arab states adopted a series of outcome documents at a meeting in Beijing on Thursday, marking a significant stride towards building a community with a shared future.

The 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) highlighted the growing ties between China and the Arab world against the backdrop of the closely watched Palestinian-Israeli conflict, analysts said.

The opening ceremony of the conference was attended by top leaders from China, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul-Gheit and other senior officials from Arab states.

The gathering is expected to further consolidate consensus between China and Arab states, chart the course for future cooperation, and raise a common voice from both sides on the Palestinian issue, analysts said.

SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS

The conference adopted the Beijing Declaration, the CASCF execution plan for 2024-2026, and a China-Arab states joint statement on the Palestinian issue.

The Beijing Declaration reviews the important consensus and progress in implementing the outcomes of the first China-Arab States Summit held in 2022 and clarifies the practical path for promoting the building of a China-Arab community with a shared future.

Guests learn about a clean energy project at the sixth China-Arab States Expo in Yinchuan, northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Sept. 22, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Haizhou)

In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the ministerial meeting on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to work with the Arab side to put in place “five cooperation frameworks” to step up the building of a China-Arab community with a shared future.

He also voiced readiness to work with the Arab side to make China-Arab relations a model for maintaining world peace and stability, a fine example of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, a paradigm of harmonious coexistence between civilizations, and a model for promoting good global governance.

Since the establishment of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum 20 years ago, two-way trade has significantly increased, encompassing a wide range of sectors including energy, infrastructure, technology, and finance.

China is the largest trading partner of many Arab countries. The trade volume between China and Arab countries surged from 36.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2004 to 431.4 billion dollars in 2022.

Up till now, China has forged comprehensive strategic partnerships or strategic partnerships with 14 Arab countries and the Arab League. All the 22 Arab countries and the Arab League have signed deals with China on Belt and Road cooperation.

Speaking about joint efforts to build a China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era, Aboul-Gheit told Xinhua in a recent interview that “there is a sense of well-grounded mutual trust, and the two sides are bound by win-win cooperation aiming at common interests.”

In a recent interview, Tunisian Ambassador to China Adel Elarbi underscored the forum’s role as a vital mechanism for facilitating consultation, cooperation, coordination of positions, exchanges, and mutual learning between China and Arab states.

EVER-GROWING TIES

China’s engagement with Arab countries extends beyond economic scope.

In 2023, China played a pivotal role in facilitating the restoration of Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic ties with Iran, marking a significant milestone that brought reconciliation among regional countries.

In April, representatives of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) were invited to Beijing to hold talks on the promotion of intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

This year, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates joined BRICS, an emerging-market cooperative mechanism initially comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. In addition, 17 Arab countries have become members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the first multilateral financial institution proposed by China.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Alireza Bigdeli (Front) and Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Consular Affairs Ali Al-Yousef (C) attend a ribbon cutting at the opening ceremony of the Iranian embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on June 6, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Haizhou)

“Relations between China and Arab countries are constantly growing. China is willing to further build these relations, and Arab countries need to open up more to China,” Aboul-Gheit told Xinhua in an interview ahead of the opening of the ministerial conference.

As members of the Global South, China and Arab states have also carried out close cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. They advocate for multilateralism and aspire to establish a more just and equitable global order that safeguards the interests of developing nations.

Abdel Mohdy Motawe, a Cairo-based researcher and executive director of the Middle East Forum for Strategic Studies and National Security, said China’s positions on many issues were consistent with those of the Arab countries, enabling China to win great support from the Arab world and respect for its role, especially in the UN Security Council.

The joint commitment to fostering greater equilibrium within the global order serves as a powerful impetus for the ministerial meeting to bolster relations, said Charbel Barakat, director of the international news department at Kuwait’s Al Jarida Newspaper.

BRIGHT PROSPECTS

In light of the timelines of the ministerial conference, Ambassador Elarbi highlighted the opportunity it presents for both sides to discuss and exchange development experiences while jointly exploring solutions to current regional and international challenges.

In his keynote speech, Xi said China firmly supports the establishment of an independent State of Palestine that enjoys full sovereignty based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. China supports Palestine’s full membership in United Nations, and supports a more broad-based, authoritative and effective international peace conference, he added.

Haba Gamal, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, emphasized the necessity for Arab countries to work closely with countries in the Global South, given the ongoing international development and their shared developmental challenges.

He depicted cooperation between China and Arab countries as a model for cooperation between the Arab world and the Global South, emphasizing their mutual complementarity.

The cooperation between Arab countries and the Global South is an important factor in balancing global power and drawing developmental parameters that bring benefits for all sides, mitigating the polarization and imperialistic moves of the West, he said.

China has always been giving support for issues concerning the Arab world, most important of which is the Palestinian issue, while the Arab countries have always been expressing their support for one-China policy publicly, he noted.

Regarding the Belt and Road Initiative, he said he had seen very promising projects between the Arab world and the Global South, emphasizing win-win cooperation without interference in internal affairs, while maintaining the special characteristics and respecting the sovereignty of each side.

Salah Jumaa, deputy editor-in-chief of Egypt’s Middle East News Agency, pointed out “a significant shift towards China in relations and coverage of relations with China.”

“The evidence is the first China-Arab States Summit held in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world’s orientation towards China, especially after the current events (in Gaza) and the exposure of the biased stance of the United States,” he said.

As evidenced by the differing stances of the West on Ukraine and Palestine, Jumaa pointed to the existence of double standards in addressing global issues.

He said he believes that after the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the relations between Arab states and China will be strengthened, and this forum will be a great opportunity to develop Arab-Chinese relations. (Video reproters: Liu Chunhui, Yin Jiajie, Yang Yiran, Yu Fuqing, Yao Bing, Dong Xiuzhu)

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