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Sino-UAE set to pick up a gear

posted on 21/04/2004: 719 views

China has voiced readiness to accelerate pace of economic and political relations with the United Arab Emirates. In an interview with WAM on the occasion of the visit to Beijing of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Tang Jiaxuan, State Councillor and Member of China's State Council said with trade volume reaching US$5.8 billion in 2003, the UAE has become "the largest importer of Chinese products in the Arab world".

Following is the full text of Jiaxuan's statement to WAM:-

Q1. Your Excellency, how do you evaluate the bilateral relations between the UAE and China? Is there any plan to promote these relations in the future?

A1. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Relations between the two countries have made great strides by virtue of the mutual attention paid by their leadership and governments. We may summarize the salient features of these relations as follows: -

(i)-The political ties are firm and high-level contacts between both countries are intensive. The Chinese Head of State and a number of top officials from the National Assembly of the People's Representatives, the National Committee for the Political Consultative Congress and the State Council have visited the UAE. As for the UAE's side, H.H President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Economy and Commerce, Health, Planning and Information and Culture have visited China. These reciprocal visits have bolstered mutual understanding and accelerated an already distinctive relationship between the two countries. In addition, both countries maintain close cooperation in international affairs.

(ii). Economic and trade ties are developing fast. Firstly, the volume of trade between the two countries has surged from US$70 million at the beginning of the diplomatic relations to US$5.8 billion in 2003, an 83 times' increase over the past 20 years. This makes the UAE the largest importer of Chinese products in the Arab world. Secondly, reciprocal investments are gaining momentum and are promising.

By the end of 2003, accumulated Chinese investments in the UAE stood at US$50.1 million and the number of Chinese companies registered there exceeded 350. UAE's investment projects in China have totalled 351, with investment contracts valued at US$370 million.

(iii). The bilateral cooperation in the fields of culture, media, education, health and sports are on the move as well. In recent years, governments of both countries held cultural exchange weeks of varied nature. Cultural contacts at the popular level are on the rise too. It is particularly noteworthy that the UAE Centre for Arabic Language Teaching and Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Beijing University for Foreign Studies, which was set up at a generous grant from Sheikh Zayed, is playing an important role in teaching Arabic language to Chinese cadres and invigorating cultural and educational interaction between China and the UAE.

The Sino-UAE ties, in our view, are based on solid grounds and have huge potentials. The UAE is an important member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and China is always keen to promote friendship and cooperation, in various aspects, with its member states, including the UAE.

Q2. How does your government view the visit of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs' visit to China, particularly with regard to strengthening the friendly relations between both countries?

A2.The visit to China of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, is a significant event in the Sino-UAE relations since it coincides with the 20th anniversary of exchange of diplomatic ties between the two countries and as such adds to it a new dimension. The visit in itself is a cause for celebration and a clear evidence of the attention given by the UAE leadership and government to enhanced bilateral relations.

However, I would avail myself this opportunity to reiterate that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the visit in the belief that it will help to develop, in a more deep and comprehensive way, the existing friendship and cooperation in various fields.

Q3. What are the potentials for promoting cooperation in the economic, political and cultural fields between the two countries?

A3. Though we are satisfied with the level of the Sino-UAE cooperation in political, economic, cultural and other domains, yet we believe that are huge potentials remain to be explored. In the political sphere, the two sides my intensify exchange of visits at high and other levels, regularly exchange views on major international and regional levels and maintain further cooperation in international affairs. In the economic front, bilateral trade in its entirety is still confined to conventional goods, something which does not depict a true picture of the economic development and ability of institutions in both countries.

Furthermore, bilateral cooperation in energy and joint investment leave much to be desired. That is why the Chinese government encourages highly efficient and trustworthy Chinese firms and establishments to start economic and trade businesses in the UAE. It also welcomes more UAE businessmen to visit China to closely acquaint themselves with the economic development level and the investment atmosphere as well as to explore new avenues to expand bilateral economic and trade cooperation. Important still is the interaction and cooperation between both sides in cultural, media, educational, sport, health, tourism and other areas. I am quite confident of the future of the bilateral cooperation in various fields.

Q4. Your Excellency, do you think that the UAE and China are prepared to enter into joint strategic ventures in the fields of technology transfer, energy, water and training in the future?

A4. China and the UAE, both being developing countries, have one objective in common, that is to activate cooperation on the basis of mutual interests and in order to achieve common development. Each of the two countries has unique features in one or more fields, a matter which allows integration and reciprocal benefits China backs any projection or project that would contribute to enhanced cooperation between the two countries.

Q5. Can you elaborate on the current situation in the Gulf region and the Middle East? A. The Middle East and Gulf region have long been undergoing tense conditions. It is currently witnessing profound changes as a result of the war in Iraq. However, peace, stability and development remain to be the persistent demand and strong desire of the countries and peoples of the region. The Chinese side always believes that restoration of peace and stability in the Middle East and Gulf region concurs with the mutual interests of the peoples of the region and the world. China has been steadily supporting the just issues of the Arab people, including the Palestinian question, and always strives to achieve comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

The Middle East is characterized by its history, tradition and cultural peculiarities. We always believe that the countries and peoples of the region must decide its destiny and that the international community, when tackling the region's issues, must hold its particularities with full regard, respect the will of its countries and peoples and place peace and development in the region in a forefront position.

Appreciating the positive role of the UAE and H.H Sheikh Zayed, mainly in supporting the solidarity of the Arab countries and cementing coordination and cooperation among GCC states as well as maintaining peace and stability of the region, China stands ready to sustain and enhance consultation and cooperation with the UAE and other countries of the region to contribute to its peace and stability. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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