Chinese ambassador Zhou Jian has extended his greetings on the occasion of Qatar National Day. Here is what he had to say:
* Qatar celebrates its National Day on December 18. What message do you have for Qatar and its people on this occasion?
On behalf of the Chinese government and the 1.4bn Chinese people, I would like to extend my heartfelt greetings and best wishes to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and His Highness the Deputy Amir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani and the Qatari people. I sincerely wish brotherly Qatar, under the leadership of His Highness the Amir, to hold a wonderful FIFA Club World Cup, accomplish greater achievements as part of Qatar National Vision 2030 and make Qatar a more glorious pearl of the Gulf, a more lively oasis in the desert.
* Qatar has made remarkable achievements at the local and international levels. How do you assess this Qatari determination and will despite local and international challenges?
Over the past few years, the brotherly Qatari people have made great progress in national development. Its economy has been diversified at a rapid pace. Free zones in Qatar have been facilitating business and attracting investments. A great number of large-scale infrastructure projects have been completed and natural gas production has recorded a new high. The lives of the residents of Qatar have been significantly improved.
The success of Qatar should first be attributed to the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim. Out of the loyalty to his country and the sense of responsibility for his people, His Highness established Qatar National Vision 2030 to modernise Qatar’s governance system and enhance its economic diversity so as to maintain the comprehensive and sustainable development of the country’s economy.
At present, Qatar is the largest LNG exporter in the world and a critical hub in the Gulf region and the Middle East, making positive contributions to global energy and security and the world’s economic development.
The Qatari people are marching boldly forward to a bright future under the leadership of His Highness.
Of course, the success of Qatar also belongs to the brave and hard-working Qatari people. They gained national independence and liberation with great sacrifices and have turned a patch of desert into a modern country with sweat and wisdom. They welcome visitors with openness, making Qatar a paradise appealing to peoples from all over the world. The Qatari people have shown solidarity in overcoming numerous difficulties and risks. As a result, the 'Qatar Cruise' is proceeding through waves and heading to the port of success.
Qatar's achievements are also the results of its national and social stability. Under the leadership of His Highness the Amir, the Qatari people have found a development path that suits Qatar’s reality, formulated their own political system and realised political and social stability. This is crucial to maintaining economic development, social openness and people’s happiness.
* How do you assess the relations between China and Qatar?
Although China and Qatar are geographically far apart, our friendly interactions date back centuries. We are friends, brothers and partners. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Qatar, our bilateral relations have maintained sound and steady development under the guidance of the two countries’ leaders. I think we could see our relations from three aspects.
The mutual political trust between the two countries is high. In 2014, China and Qatar established a strategic partnership and started our co-operation under the Belt and Road initiative, which opened the gate to rapid and comprehensive development. Since the beginning of this year, the two heads of states have met twice in just six months. They have reached a broad consensus on deepening China-Qatar strategic partnership and have drawn a beautiful blueprint for the development of bilateral relations.
China and Qatar have always focused on enhancing mutual understanding and support on issues involving each other’s core interests and major concerns, and strengthening co-ordination on major international issues. Both of us are contributors to global peace and stability, as well as protecting the common interests of developing countries.
The pragmatic co-operation between the two countries is deep.
At the beginning of our diplomatic ties, the trade volume of China-Qatar was less than $50mn, and it rose to $13.4bn in 2018, with a rapid increase of 260 times. China has become Qatar's third largest trading partner and second largest source of imports. On the other hand, Qatar is China's second largest source of LNG imports. Qatar’s LNG has contributed to China’s green development, and high-quality Chinese products have improved Qataris’ living standards.
Chinese companies have extensively participated in Qatar's major projects such as the Lusail stadium and Hamad Port, and Chinese engineers are currently implementing the construction of 5G communication networks. The Chinese Industrial and Commercial Bank and the Bank of China have branches in Doha, and most of their loans go to local enterprises, contributing to Qatar’s real economy.
Lately, the second session of the Qatari-Chinese Joint Committee for Economic, Trade and Technical Co-operation was held in Doha successfully. The two sides had in-depth discussions regarding the implementation of our two leaders’ consensus and promoting the co-operation in the fields of trade, investment, industry, finance, energy, infrastructure and sub-national collaborations, which opened a new chapter of bilateral relations.
The personnel exchange between the two countries is phenomenal. Amity between the peoples holds the keys to sound state-to-state relations. The Qatar-China 2016 Year of Culture drew to a successful close, and Chinese events such as Kungfu, ballet and folk music gained popularity in Qatar.
More and more Qataris are learning Chinese. The Qatar football team won the Asian Cup and has a large number of loyal fans in China. Thousands of visitors flocked to the Qatar Pavilion at Expo 2019 Beijing, and it became one of the most popular foreign pavilions.
At present, both sides are working hard to accelerate the procedure of establishing Chinese cultural centre and Confucius Institute in Doha. I believe that will help deepen the people-to-people bond.
Looking at the future, China-Qatar bilateral ties are standing at a new starting point with strategic opportunities. We wish to work closely with Qatar to implement the consensus of our leaders, to create synergy between our development strategies towards a community of shared future for China and Qatar.
We should deepen the mutual political trust. We should increase high-level interactions and maintain close contacts at the leadership and other levels. We should continue to provide mutual support on issues involving each other’s core interests and major concerns, fight against unilateralism and hegemonism, defend multilateralism and free trade, and promote democracy in international relations. We should call on the media to adhere to the principles of objectiveness and justice, and encourage our journalists to report the real China and the real Qatar.
We should deepen win-win co-operation. We should enhance our co-operation mechanism with energy as the core, infrastructure as the key field, finance and investment as new starting points, forming a mutually beneficial and win-win relationship with strong complementarity and interlinked interests.
We should enhance the people-to-people connectivity.
People are always the basic elements of bilateral ties and friendship. We should encourage cultural exchanges, increase visits of performance delegations, media, think tanks and universities, and enhance our understanding and friendship.
Youths represent the future of our countries and the hope of our nations. We should encourage the exchanges of young people, which will help pass on our friendship from generation to generation.
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