Xie Fuzhan: Side by Side in Solidarity
31 Aug, 2021  |  Source:China Daily  |  Hits:718


China is working with Middle Eastern countries to promote development and secure lasting peace and stability in the region

Over the past year, the mutating novel coronavirus has jeopardized the global economic recovery. Amid the complicated and fast-changing international situation, China has been bolstering cooperation and exchanges with the Middle Eastern countries, further consolidating ties and improving peoples' welfare. China and the Middle Eastern countries are good friends, good partners and good brothers that share weal and woe, are standing in solidarity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and making joint efforts to build a community with a shared future for both peoples.

By standing in solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic, China and the Middle Eastern countries have deepened their traditional friendship. In the face of the pandemic, China's relations with the Middle Eastern countries have improved despite the headwinds, and are filled with vitality and development momentum. The two sides have expressed support for each other, helped each other with the supply of medical devices and materials, jointly carried out clinical trials for vaccines, cooperated in the joint production of vaccines, and held over 60 seminars to exchange their anti-pandemic knowledge and experiences.

Furthermore, China has dispatched over 100 medical experts to the Middle Eastern countries to assist them in the fight against the pandemic, provided assistance to the construction of COVID-19 testing labs in the Middle East, and donated or exported over 176 million doses of the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines to the Middle Eastern countries. With the pandemic still raging around the world, anti-pandemic cooperation between China and the Middle Eastern countries has set an example of genuine multilateralism and injected strong dynamism into South-South cooperation in the new era.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, economic and trade cooperation between China and the Middle Eastern countries has maintained good momentum, with major investment and cooperation projects continuously advanced and great resilience shown in the joint building of the Belt and Road Initiative. China is now the biggest trading partner of Arab states. In 2020, the bilateral trade in goods between China and Arab states hit around $240 billion.

Amid the new technological revolution and ongoing industrial transformations, China and the Middle Eastern countries should keep abreast of the times by extending their traditional energy cooperation to cooperation in the whole industrial chain and in emerging fields such as the digital economy, the green economy, 5G and artificial intelligence, to continuously promote economic transformation and create new growth drivers.

To bolster innovative cooperation, China and the Middle Eastern countries have jointly promoted cooperation in basic research, culture and education and set up a number of innovation parks and innovation centers, providing strong support for innovation-driven growth, which has bright prospects. As the global fight against the pandemic and economic recovery enters a crucial phase, China and the Middle Eastern countries must further optimize their cooperation mechanism, strengthen the top-level designs and better align their development strategies.

China is willing to work with the Middle Eastern countries for deeper alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with the national-level strategies of the Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt Vision 2030, Saudi Vision 2030, Turkey's Middle Corridor, Iran's Seventh Five-Year Development Plan and the United Arab Emirate's 50-Year Development Plan. This will give full play to the Middle Eastern countries' advantage as an intersection of the land and maritime silk roads of the Belt and Road Initiative, and allow China and the Middle Eastern countries to jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative into an innovative means of spearheading high-quality growth.

China attaches great significance to peace, stability and development in the Middle East. It actively advocates common development and common security, and it is striving to make greater contributions to the peace and stability of the region. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, we must abandon the ideas of exclusive security and absolute security and the zero-sum mentality. Instead, we must together pursue common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.

China respects the national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Middle Eastern countries and supports extensive dialogue and consultation in a peaceful manner among all parties and advocates the settlement of regional disputes through political means. It firmly opposes any external forces' interference in the internal affairs of the Middle Eastern countries and firmly opposes the use of force or the threat of force.

Development is the guarantee of security. The fundamental solution to the turbulences in the Middle East lies in development. China is willing to continue to hold such events as the China-Arab States Forum on Reform and Development and the Middle East Security Forum to strengthen exchanges on governance, share the fruits of development, and promote lasting peace and stability in the Middle East.

China is willing to work with the Middle Eastern countries to put into practice the new philosophy of settling disputes through dialogue and resolving differences through consultation, and promote equal dialogue and consultation among the Gulf states to deepen mutual understanding and improve relations. China is also willing to work with the Middle Eastern countries to firmly combat terrorism, advance deradicalization, and promote the establishment of a Middle East trust mechanism.

The Chinese government and Chinese people have always cherished the traditional friendship with the Middle Eastern countries, and are willing to make concerted efforts with them to further deepen friendship, promote exchanges, and advance bilateral friendly cooperation.

(Xie Fuzhan, president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of this platform.)