Qatar and China have maintained excellent relations throughout the recent years and the future of bilateral ties between them is promising in all fields, Chinese ambassador to Qatar Li Chen has said.
Speaking to the local media on Thursday, he expressed great satisfaction with the four years he has spent in Qatar as the ambassador of China, describing his time here as happy, friendly and hassle-free. Chen will be leaving Doha shortly at the end of his tour of duty to Qatar.
"I first visited Qatar in 1995, then again in 2008 as part of some diplomatic visits and then I settled down here in 2015 as ambassador. Throughout these years, I have seen fast developments and achievements in various areas in Qatar, especially infrastructure and construction, including Hamad Port, Hamad International Airport, Doha Metro and a sophisticated network of roads and expressways. 
"The number of Chinese companies and Qatari-Chinese companies working in Qatar has also grown considerably over the years with more than 200 of these active in the country in different fields."
The envoy, who is a fluent Arabic speaker, was able to make many friendships and develop excellent personal relations with local officials, businesspersons and many key individuals.
"I am proud of such friendships and the officials here have been positively co-operative all the time, making my mission easier," he said.
He described Qatar as a good and trusted friend of China, which has supported the Chinese stance on various issues at all international organisations and entities, including the unity of China, the South China Sea and China's human rights record. "Simultaneously, China supports the sovereignty and independent decisions of Qatar and strongly backs its security and stability." 
He said: "China has strongly supported the Kuwaiti mediation efforts since the blockade against Qatar started in 2017 and called for dialogue, respect for the sovereignty of independent states and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states while abiding by international laws when resolving disputes." 
The ambassador said Qatar was among the first countries to take part in China's Road and Belt initiative and it is a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Throughout the recent past, high-level exchange of visits took place, including the visits to China by Qatar's Minister of Transport and Communication, Minister of Energy, Minister of Commerce and Industry and the Governor of Qatar Central Bank, among others. This gave a boost to the volume of bilateral trade reaching $130bn in 2018, up by 28.6% from the previous year. 
China also signed new contracts with Qatar to import LNG. Besides bilateral trade, the two countries also maintain joint projects in other countries. 
Qatar is considered a good destination for Chinese companies in different areas. Immediately after the unjust blockade was imposed on Qatar, China launched two direct navigation lines between Chinese ports and Hamad Port to ease the flow of goods. 
The top leadership of the two countries maintains good relations and have met twice within the past five months. His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani paid an official visit to China in January this year, which was his second visit after the one in 2014. His Highness the Amir also met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, during the fifth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) this month. 
During all such meetings, the leaders have expressed strong political will for more co-operation and integration between the two countries, according to the ambassador. 
Chen said the two countries have signed key agreements in counter-terrorism co-operation and military and security co-operation. In addition, some Chinese naval vessels have visited Qatar. 
In the cultural field, the two countries organised a successful Qatar-China Year of Culture in 2016. 
Last year, the citizens of both countries were exempted from the requirement of entry visa, which helped in easing their movement between Qatar and China. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Qatar totalled 62,000 last year, up 38% from the previous year. Qatar Airways operates 49 direct flights to seven different destinations in China every week, which also helps in maintaining the flow of tourists and visitors both ways.
During the official visit of His Highness the Amir to China in January 2019, the Chinese-Qatari Friendship Society was established. It is headed by high-level officials from both sides due to its importance. 
Chen said the Chinese embassy in Qatar is set to establish a Chinese Culture Centre and a Centre for the Chinese Language Learning.
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