Published: 10:00, May 27, 2024
PDF View
Xi to attend China-Arab meeting
By Zhang Yunbi

Upcoming forum seen as a major engine pushing forward cooperation

President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony and deliver a keynote speech at the 10th ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, a major vehicle that has driven bilateral relations since 2004.

Foreign ministers or representatives of the Arab states and Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the League of Arab States, will attend the meeting, which will convene on Thursday in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying announced.

READ MORE: Xi to attend 10th China-Arab States Cooperation Forum meeting

Analysts said the event is expected to chart the course for and build on the high level of China-Arab ties, making the 20th anniversary of the forum this year a new milestone for two-way cooperation.

In 2022, Xi attended the first China-Arab States Summit with leaders of Arab states in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, mapping out a comprehensive blueprint for the development of the relations.

Earlier this month, Xi mentioned the upcoming 10th ministerial meeting in a congratulatory message he sent for the convening of the 33rd Arab League Summit in Bahrain.

In the message, he said that "China-Arab relations are currently in their best shape of all time", and he expressed his hope that the two sides will take the 10th ministerial meeting as an opportunity to further deepen cooperation in various fields, in order to better benefit the two peoples.

China and Arab states enjoy a traditional friendship, and their relations have set a great example for South-South cooperation, experts said.

"The forum has become a major engine pushing forward China-Arab cooperation in the political and diplomatic context," said Li Shaoxian, director of Ningxia University's China-Arab Research Institute.

Before the end of last year, China had signed bilateral cooperation documents on jointly building the Belt and Road with all of the 22 Arab states and with the League of Arab States.

"The Belt and Road has become a shared path for growth for China and all these countries," Li added.

China has been the overall top trading partner of Arab states for several consecutive years.

The annual China-Arab trade volume has grown from $36.7 billion in 2004 to $398.1 billion last year, "an increase of more than tenfold", Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chang Hua said recently.

Exchanging letters

In another development, President Xi has replied to letters from student representatives of the Hundred Schools Project of Chinese language education in the United Arab Emirates.

He encouraged them to master the Chinese language and get to understand China, and to contribute to advancing the bilateral friendship.

Witnessed by Xi and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the then visiting crown prince of Abu Dhabi of the UAE and now the UAE's president, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing in July 2019 to officially launch the language project.

The UAE president will begin a state visit to China on Thursday and attend the 10th ministerial meeting in Beijing, the UAE embassy in China announced.

Currently, 171 schools in the UAE offer Chinese language courses, and 71,000 students are learning Chinese.

Recently, 40 primary and middle school students from the model schools of the project wrote letters to Xi in Chinese.

They expressed their aspiration and love for Chinese culture and their wish to be ambassadors for China-UAE friendship.

In his reply, Xi said, "I have read the letters from each of you", adding that in between the lines and from the paintings that were included, he felt the love for Chinese culture and the expectations for the friendship between the two countries.

ALSO READ: Xi encourages UAE students to promote China-UAE friendship

Xi said he is very pleased to see that five years after the launch of the project, learning Chinese has become a new fashion in the UAE, cultivating a number of young ambassadors for China-UAE exchanges.

In their letters, the students said they hope that China and the UAE will always be good friends. Xi replied that the Chinese people share the same wish.

"The youths represent the future of China-UAE friendly relations," he said.

Xi told the students that they are welcome to come to China to see pandas, climb the Great Wall and go to university in China when they grow up. More UAE youths are also welcome to learn Chinese and understand China, and to participate in exchanges with Chinese youths to learn from each other, Xi added.

He encouraged the students to plant the seeds of friendship in their hearts and contribute to creating a better future for China-UAE relations.