Wang Yi/State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China
Covid-19 is affecting each and everyone of us. In the face of this raging virus, China and Arab states have stood by each other, fought in solidarity, and extended a helping hand to each other. Our relations have been further strengthened and elevated.
Just as gold stands the test of fire, true friendship endures adversity. At the most difficult moment in China’s fight against Covid-19, leaders of Arab states gave us strong political support with heartwarming messages and phone calls.
The Council of Arab Ministers of Health, in its 53rd session, issued a statement of solidarity. Together, Arab states donated more than 10mn masks and much needed medical supplies to China. On the Internet, our Arab brothers and sisters have posted videos and songs, sending their best wishes. Such acts of kindness have deeply touched the 1.4bn Chinese people.
One good turn deserves another. When Arab states were hit by Covid-19, our hearts go out to them. In his phone calls and letters with leaders of Arab states, President Xi Jinping expressed solidarity, support and the resolve to tide over the trying times together. Batch after batch of Chinese supplies have been sent to Arab states, which contributed to their fight against the disease.
China has shared its containment experience and medical technologies with Arab states unreservedly, holding video conferences of health experts with 21 Arab states, and sending medical teams to eight Arab states. In addition, China facilitated Arab states’ purchases of medical supplies from China and supported the phased reopening of their economy.
For the Palestinian people, China has been a staunch supporter of their just cause to restore lawful rights. To help with their battle against Covid-19, China has made special arrangements to send assistance in medical supplies and a team of medical experts, and offered donations to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Like-minded in vision, partners in action. China and Arab states share similar views on how the world can overcome Covid-19. At the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, President Xi called for making a collective response by all countries, exerting the leading role of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and updating global governance on public health. Leaders of Arab states and the Council of Arab Ministers of Health also underlined closer cooperation with WHO. Our unified voice against politicisation and name-calling plays an important role in galvanising global efforts to defeat Covid-19.
With our joint fight against Covid-19, China and Arab states have again shown the world our time-tested partnership for mutual benefit and our brotherly relations sharing weal and woe. Our strategic partnership has been further upgraded in this process. At the opening ceremony of the eighth Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Co-operation Forum (CASCF) in 2018, President Xi proposed a Sino-Arab strategic partnership in the new era and a community with a shared future for China and Arab states, which was warmly received by Arab states. Over the past two years, co-operation between China and Arab states in wide-ranging areas have gained strong momentum and borne much fruits.
First, stronger political trust has solidified our mutual support on issues concerning our respective core interests and major concerns. We have maintained frequent high-level engagement. Leaders of many Arab states visited China. With such top-level guidance, China-Arab relations have been moving forward steadily. China firmly supports Arab states in maintaining security and stability and in pursuing development paths suited to their national conditions. China firmly supports the Palestinian people’s efforts to restore their lawful rights and establish an independent sovereign state. Arab states, on their part, have firmly stood with China on matters related to Taiwan, Xinjiang and China’s latest efforts to safeguard national security in Hong Kong in accordance with the law.
Second, the greater complementarity of our development strategies has brought us closer as we pursue our dreams of rejuvenation. To date, 19 Arab states and the League of Arab States have signed Belt and Road co-operation documents with China. This has made our efforts to synergise development strategies more effective and efficient. In 2019 alone, more than 2,300 Chinese and Arab representatives of various sectors took part in CASCF events, sharing governance experience with and learning from each other.
Third, the ever-deepening practical co-operation has delivered substantial mutual benefits to both sides. In 2019, two-way trade between China and Arab states grew by 9% year on year, with Arab states maintaining their position as the largest source of crude oil imports for China. Two-way investment also climbed steadily. Multiple cooperation projects in low-carbon energy have come to fruition. Chinese technology has catalysed the space dreams of more Arab states. The successful launch of SRSS-1, Sudan’s first satellite, is a case in point.
Fourth, our closer people-to-people ties have facilitated more mutual learning. Over the past two years, more than 6,000 professional personnel from Arab states have attended training sessions in China. The Chinese language courses are popular in the Arab states. When some people in the world spread fallacies about a “clash of civilisations”, Chinese and Arab friends have joined forces to advocate harmony and speak up for what is right.
In a world ravaged by Covid-19, the future of countries is closely entwined like never before. Now is the time to further deepen the Sino-Arab strategic partnership and build a community with a shared future for China and Arab states.
China and Arab states should be true friends who offer solidarity and co-operation to each other in times of difficulty. As we continue to help and support each other in this joint battle against Covid-19, we must oppose attempts at politicisation or stigmatisation, support the essential role of WHO in leading the global response, and contribute our share to the cause of global public health.
China and Arab states should be promoters of enduring peace and universal security. We need to stand together in upholding multilateralism and the basic norms governing international relations and in pushing for political settlement of regional hotspots to restore peace and tranquillity to the Middle East at an early date. China will always remain by the side of the Palestinian people and continue to support and help their cause.
China and Arab states should be good partners pursuing mutually beneficial co-operation and shared development. We need to enhance Belt and Road co-operation, and broaden co-operation in infrastructure, energy, telecommunications and aerospace, among others. Under the current circumstances, it is especially important that we tap co-operation potential in new areas and business forms burgeoning under Covid-19 restrictions. This way, we will be able to further enrich and improve the CASCF mechanisms.
China and Arab states should be advocates of openness, inclusiveness and exchanges among different cultures. We must remain steadfast in promoting dialogue to dispel misunderstanding, and reject attempts to link terrorism to any particular nationality or religion. We should explore the potential of mutual learning between Chinese and Arab civilisations, and encourage more people-to-people exchanges to forge a closer bond of friendship and co-operation between our peoples.
With its roots deep in the fertile ground of mutual respect and mutual benefit, the Sino-Arab friendship has grown into a towering tree that no force could ever shake, come rain or shine. As long as China and Arab states pull together in solidarity, our community with a shared future will prove impregnable, and the Sino-Arab relations will embrace a better future!
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