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China, Arab states eye more cooperation

Xi calls for efforts to promote peace, mutual benefits and win-win results

By LIU ZHIHUA,ZHONG NAN and CAO DESHENG | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-20 08:45
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Visitors interact with a robot at the United Arab Emirates booth at the fifth China-Arab States Expo, which opened in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, on Thursday. HU DONGMEI/CHINA DAILY

China is ready to work with the Arab states to promote peace, cooperation and development for mutual benefit and win-win results, President Xi Jinping said on Thursday.

Xi made the remark in a congratulatory message delivered to the fifth China-Arab States Expo, which opened on Thursday in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

He called on Arab states to work with China on high-quality construction of the Belt and Road to take the strategic partnership between them to a higher level and jointly build the China-Arab states community with a shared future for a new era.

Designed as a platform for economic and financial cooperation as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges, the expo, which closes on Sunday, is being held both online and offline under the theme of "strengthening trade and economic cooperation and jointly building the Belt and Road".

Pledging to promote economic and trade cooperation between China and Arab countries, government officials, experts, and business leaders from both sides are bullish about the prospects for China-Arab cooperation based on historical bonds and strong friendly ties, as well as the positive role played by these ties in assisting global recovery and growth.

Facing the pandemic and profound changes in the world, China and the Arab states need to join hands and seek common development more than ever, tap business opportunities and deepen cooperation, Qian Keming, China's vice-minister of commerce, said at the opening ceremony of the event.

"Together with Arab countries and based on current cooperation, China is confident that the two sides' cooperation in emerging sectors such as the digital economy, new energy and artificial intelligence will be broadened, raising China-Arab economic and trade cooperation to a new level," he said.

Kamal Hassan Ali, assistant secretary-general for economic affairs at the League of Arab States, said via video link that the Arab region has become one of the main areas covered by the Belt and Road Initiative, which he described as "a great global project".

He also said China is widely popular in the Arab region and that China provides the most prominent experience that Arab countries can learn from to revitalize the economy after the pandemic.

As of July, China has signed BRI cooperation documents with 19 Arab economies. China-Arab energy cooperation has been deepening, while major projects in the fields of electricity, communication and industrial parks keep increasing and cooperation has been advanced in areas such as nuclear energy, satellites and new energy, according to a report released at the expo.

China has become the largest trading partner of Arab countries, which are China's largest overseas supplier of crude oil, thanks to their complementary trade structure, according to data from the ministry.

Bilateral trade totaled $239.8 billion last year, while China's exports to Arab countries grew by 2.2 percent year-on-year to $123.1 billion. China's direct investment in Arab countries amounted to $20.1 billion by 2020, while the latter's investments in China totaled $3.8 billion.

Thanks to the tangible growth of the BRI, China Railway Construction Corp Ltd, a State-owned infrastructure project provider, plans to complete construction of Rotana Hotels and Resorts in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, a landmark hotel construction project worth 340 million dirhams ($92.6 million), in September 2023.

Wang Wenzhong, the CRCC's vice-president, said the CRCC will deploy more resources in key markets such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as its subsidiaries there have already built many projects, including bridges, tunnels, buildings, roads, residential buildings, office complexes and other commercial buildings.

Hu Dongmei in Yinchuan contributed to this story.

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