Mon, 09 Dec 2019

Chinese and Emirati leaders forge trade agreements

Lola Evans
20 Jul 2019, 16:34 GMT+10

ABU DHABI, UAE - Whilst the United States and China are at odds, impacting the economies of both countries, as well as the broader global economy, China is busy nurturing relationships elsewhere around the globe.

For instance China and the UAE are enjoying their "best period" in history while celebrating a milestone in their relationship, according to a top Chinese diplomat.

"This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE. Our relationship is currently at its best period in history," Ni Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE, told the Emirates News Agency, WAM, in an exclusive interview.

Among all Middle East countries, the UAE has the deepest, broadest and most fruitful cooperation with China, he said.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will visit China next week, almost a year after Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the Gulf country.

"The exchange of visits between our top leaderships within a year is testimony to the high standards and special significance of the China-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, thus marking a milestone in the development of our bilateral relationship," Jian said.

"The upcoming visit by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed is expected to consolidate and deepen our political and strategic mutual trust, and elevate our political, military, commercial, cultural, people-to-people and technological cooperation across the board," the ambassador added.

It will further substantiate the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to open "a glorious new chapter of China-UAE friendship," he said.

Ties between the two countries are also being seen in the property market. Chinese investors, deterred from buying in traditional markets such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, due to tightening government restrictions on foreign ownership, are being welcomed in the emirates.

Chinese construction companies too are active in the property sector.

The 'Belt and Road Initiative' proposed by President Xi synergises with the "Restore the Silk Road" vision proposed by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the envoy said.

"Jointly building the Belt and Road is in line with the UAE's interests and brings opportunities and momentum to our respective development. As an important regional transport hub and financial and trade centre, the UAE has a pivotal role to play to extend China's cooperation with the Gulf and Middle East States and facilitate interconnectivity," he said.

The diplomat said, over 1.1 million Chinese tourists had visited the UAE last year, since the introduction of the mutual visa-exemption arrangement between both nations.

"There are over 150 commercial flights every week connecting different cities in our countries," he said.

Confucius Institutes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, an ongoing initiative to teach Chinese in 200 UAE schools and frequent visits of Chinese artist groups to the UAE have also enhanced cultural and educational relations.

"Our plan to open a Chinese Cultural Centre in the UAE is in progress," the envoy added.

The UAE hosts the largest Chinese community in the Middle East. Of over 200,000-strong Chinese in the UAE, most of them live in Dubai and Sharjah. Around 50 community organisations cater to the community members.

"They have forged a profound friendship with locals, and made great contributions to the UAE's economic development with their perseverance and pioneering spirit," the ambassador said.

About the regional developments, he said, "China is concerned over the tensions in the Gulf region. We hope relevant parties will remain calm, exercise restraint, take concrete measures to prevent escalation, and jointly uphold maritime safety and security in relevant straits, as well as peace and stability in the region."

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an influential major country, China has tried to ease tensions in the Gulf region, Jian said.

The region is of great significance to international energy supply and global security and stability, he said.

"We are working to play our role and contribute to upholding peace and stability in the Gulf region," he added.

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