The prevailing crisis between Qatar and the four blockading countries Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt should be resolved within the region based on the respect to sovereignty of countries and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, Chinese ambassador Li Chen suggested on Monday.
Speaking to Gulf Times, he stressed that China is keen to maintain security and stability in the region and views negotiations between the parties as the key to resolve the crisis.
"China supports and appreciates the Kuwaiti mediation efforts in this regard," the envoy observed.
Li Chen said that the relationships between China and Qatar are strong and deeply rooted on all levels even long before the official establishment of diplomatic relationship between the two countries three decades ago, when China opened its first embassy in Doha in 1988.
The bilateral trade was $8.077bn in 2017, with a considerable increase of 46% compared to the previous year. China is considered the fourth largest trade partner of Qatar, and Qatar is the second largest exporter of LNG to China. Two major Chinese banks have branches in Doha; Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC). Qatar opened Middle East’s first centre for clearing transactions in the Chinese Yuan in 2015. Similarly, Doha Bank and QNB have offices in China and they are in good position to be operating as full branches. A good number of major Chinese companies are operating in Qatar in several key projects.
The ambassador stressed that the top leaderships of the two friendly countries have agreed to form a strong strategic partnership, in particular during the very successful visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to China in 2014, which augmented the relationship in various fields of co-operation.
Last year in September Qatar signed with China a co-operation agreement in the field of tourism, and the visa on arrival facility has encouraged many Chinese to come to Qatar. The number of Chinese visitors to Qatar rose by almost 24% in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous period.
The ambassador pointed out that during the recent visit of Ahmed bin Hassan al-Hammadi, secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to China where the second round of the political consultations between the two countries were held, the two sides agreed to grant the citizens of both countries entry without the need for pre-entry visa. The agreement is under process at the entities concerned in China. The two countries have also signed an agreement in the field of security and law enforcement. Besides, China had a very successful Year of Culture in Qatar in 2016, with various cultural and artistic performances and exhibitions.