Chinese FM’s Mideast tour sought to boost bilateral, trade ties
December 29 2013 02:11 AM

“China will continue to firmly support the just cause of Palestine to restore its legitimate national rights and to play a more positive and constructive role in pushing forward the Palestine-Israel peace process”

By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had visited five countries in the Middle East this month in a bid to further China’s bilateral and trade relations including different levels of co-operation, Chinese Ambassador to Qatar Gao Youzhen has said.
The ambassador spoke with journalists about Yi’s state visits during a press briefing held at his residence in Doha on Thursday.
Yi first met Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah on December 18 to work on the agreements reached by the two heads of state during President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit in May to China. The talks also focused on promoting the Palestine-Israel peace process.  
“China will continue to firmly support the just cause of Palestine to restore its legitimate national rights and to play a more positive and constructive role in pushing forward the Palestine-Israel peace process,” he said in a statement.
Youzhen noted that Yi also received a positive response from Israeli President Shimon Peres saying that Israel is committed to achieving peace not only with Palestine but also in the whole Middle East.
China, as a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations, has also vowed to help in pushing for the peace talks between the two countries. It also hopes that different “religions and cultures could integrate” than confront each other.
“Peace requires efforts and it will not fall down by itself. We should try hard for peace, not just wait,” stressed Yi, who also met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on December 19 in Jerusalem. He believes that Israel is taking the peace talks seriously like Palestine.
Israel wants to strengthen its trade relations with China by combining its science and technology with the latter’s huge market. This could result in doubling their bilateral trade volume yearly.
Netanyahu believes that this will also strengthen their co-operation in the fields of water resources management, healthcare, agriculture and green energy.
Yi’s next stop was Algeria which aims to continuously deepen their co-operation in trade and infrastructure. Both countries want to strengthen their co-operation in the fields of aerospace, energy, high-tech and military affairs.
He met Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra on December 21 before his talks with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal on the following day. He also attended the reception commemorating the 55th anniversary of the establishment of China-Algeria diplomatic relationship.
During his visit to Morocco, the Chinese foreign minister said that they want to strengthen co-operation in trade, investment and infrastructure. They also want to hold Africa and Europe-oriented industrial co-operation.
Yi’s last stop was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia before returning to Beijing.
“Ties between Saudi Arabia and China have been witnessing sound development, especially in trade,” he said in his meeting with Prince Saud al-Faisal.
Based on a report from London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper published last month, “China has become the largest commercial partner to Saudi Arabia with a total of $73bn worth of trade in 2012.”
Yi disclosed that about 140 Chinese companies are working in Saudi Arabia with projects of more than $18bn in various sectors, including construction, communication, infrastructure and petrochemical.
“China is willing to maintain momentum of high-level exchanges with Saudi Arabia, deepen mutually-beneficial co-operation in such traditional areas such as energy, trade and economy, and broaden co-operation in the new fields of nuclear energy and aerospace,” he added.

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