BEIJING– Chinese President Xi Jinping returned to China on Saturday after attending the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit and wrapping up a state visit to Saudi Arabia.
Officials and experts in some Arab countries spoke highly of Xi’s visit to the region, saying the trip is of strategic significance to enhancing cooperation and development, promoting peace and security, and deepening exchanges among civilizations.
The visit will inject great impetus into the development of China-Arab relations, China-GCC relations as well as China-Saudi Arabia ties, and will elevate the ties to new heights, they said.
In his speech delivered at the first China-Arab States Summit, Xi said: “The Summit is a milestone in the history of China-Arab relations, and will take us to a more promising future of friendship and cooperation.”
As strategic partners, China and Arab states should carry forward the spirit of China-Arab friendship, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, and foster a closer China-Arab community with a shared future, Xi said.
Echoing Xi’s speech, Mostafa Amin, an Egyptian researcher on Arab and international affairs, hailed the summit as a historic “milestone” in China-Arab relations, expecting it to promote cooperation between the two sides, accelerate economic development and generate stronger expectations for sustainable cooperation.
Calling China “an important, powerful and trusted partner in Asia,” Ezzat Saad, director of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, believed the summit will pave the way for opening a new phase in China-Arab relations.
The China-Arab States Summit bore “special importance” as it was meant to promote the friendship and strategic partnership between Arab countries and China, said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
Hamdi al-Tabbaa, president of the Union of Arab Businessmen and the Jordanian Businessmen Association, believed that the summit will chart a path for jointly building a China-Arab community with a shared future, which will deepen their cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), offer more development opportunities, and continuously improve people’s livelihood.
Samer Khair Ahmed, a Jordanian writer and expert on Arab-China relations, said the summit will facilitate both sides to unleash cooperation potential, open up new prospects for building a China-Arab community with a shared future, and promote exchanges and mutual learning between Chinese and Arab civilizations.
Xi also said the international community should stay firm in its commitment to the two-state solution and the principle of “land for peace,” make resolute efforts to promote peace talks, provide more humanitarian and development assistance to Palestine, and strive for a just settlement of the Palestinian issue at an early date.
Abbas Zaki, a member of the Palestinian Fatah Central Committee and commissioner for relations with Arab countries and China, lauded China’s fair position on international affairs as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
“The double standards of the United States and other Western countries on the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts in recent years have made the Palestinian issue gradually sidelined, while China has always stood firmly on the side of the just cause of the Palestinian people,” he said.
“China has always supported issues in the Arab world, especially the Palestinian cause,” Saad said.
In a keynote speech at the China-GCC Summit on Friday, Xi said: “China has a vast consumer market and a complete industrial system, while the GCC, with rich energy and resources, is embracing diversified economic development. This makes the two sides natural partners of cooperation.”
Xi proposed five priority areas for cooperation in the next three to five years, namely energy, finance and investment, innovation and new technologies, aerospace, as well as language and culture.
Xi’s speech clarified the key areas of future cooperation between the two sides, which will enhance the synergy of development strategies between China and GCC countries under the BRI, said al-Tabbaa.
Bashar Jaber, head of Studies and Researches Division of the Jordanian Ministry of Industry and Trade, said Xi’s speech enriched the strategic relations between China and GCC countries and will surely deliver more benefits to people in the region.
Gamal Bayoumi, head of the Cairo-based Arab Investors Union, hailed the China-GCC ties as “a model of success,” saying the summit will elevate the cooperation between both sides to a new level.
“There is no doubt that China boosts the economic development of the GCC through the BRI, which is of strategic significance to enhancing regional development,” he said, adding that China contributes to building “a modern Arab region” via taking part in major infrastructure and energy projects.
Mokhtar Ghobashy, deputy chairman of the Cairo-based Arab Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said the summit will speed up the development of the relations between China and GCC countries in economic and investment fields in particular.
“Boosting ties between China and the Gulf nations will be win-win for both sides,” said Ghobashy.
During their talks on Thursday, Xi and leaders of Saudi Arabia agreed to jointly advance the China-Saudi Arabia comprehensive strategic partnership and achieve even greater progress.
In a joint statement released Friday, the two countries expressed satisfaction with the signing of the implementation plan for synergizing the BRI and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, and agreed to accelerate the synergy of the two countries’ projects.
The deep synergy between the BRI and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 will bring advanced science, technology and ideas to the country, and boost its economic and social development, said Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef.
Highlighting the complementarity between the two countries in the fields of economy and trade, the Saudi minister said that while China stands at the forefront of world innovation and high-tech development, Saudi Arabia is endowed with abundant mineral resources.
He expressed confidence in the broad prospects of bilateral cooperation, saying that besides the energy and mining industries, Saudi Arabia also boasts a unique geographical location and a complete infrastructure with thriving start-up businesses, which can make it an important hub for China’s investment and trade in the Middle East and North Africa.
Murat Tufan, an analyst with Turkish broadcaster Ekoturk, said the world will witness much more cooperation between China and Gulf countries in the future under the BRI.
Their cooperation will expand further, especially in the construction sector as well as the security, energy and technology fields, he added. – Xinhua