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Wen vows to deepen relations with UAE

By Hu Yinan  (China Daily)

08:06, January 18, 2012

DUBAI - China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) established a strategic partnership on Tuesday, as Wen Jiabao, the first Chinese premier to ever visit the country, vowed to deepen understanding and friendship with all Arab nations.

Setting up the strategic partnership was a top priority of his visit, Wen told Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Tuesday morning, shortly before a joint communique was issued to confirm the move.

His landmark visit also included enhancing cooperation and personnel exchanges with Abu Dhabi and furthering relations between China and the Arab world, Wen said, adding that the UAE is "a good brother and good partner" of China in the Middle East.

The UAE will increasingly pay attention to China and strengthen communication and cooperation with Beijing in a comprehensive manner, Sheikh Mohammed said.

Later on Tuesday, Wen again spoke of the need to boost relations between Beijing and Arab nations in contemporary times before a crowd at Dragon Mart, a central trading hub in Dubai for products from China.

"Today, we're opening a new Silk Road, a road of comprehensive cooperation between China and the Arab peoples, and a road of mutual political trust, commercial credibility, solidarity and mutual assistance. It's a road that communicates different civilizations and different cultures," he said.

As the Chinese New Year draws near, Wen, who is on a six-day visit to the Middle East, sent greetings to the hundreds of Chinese and locals who welcomed him at Dragon Mart.

The new strategic partnership with the UAE represents a new milestone in bilateral relations, said Yang Honglin, a former ambassador to Iraq. It will significantly boost all-round cooperation between the two countries politically, economically and in terms of trade, and will help China and the UAE resolve regional issues as they emerge, he said.

Stability and peace in the Gulf region, the world's largest source of oil deposits and natural gas reserves, is vital in ensuring global energy stability, Wen told the Fifth World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi on Monday. He is the most senior Chinese leader to have attended the summit, hosted by the UAE since 2008 to foster discussions and cooperation on renewable and clean energy.

Wen's visit to the UAE, which concluded as he traveled to Qatar on Wednesday, followed a two-day official visit to Saudi Arabia, Beijing's top supplier of crude oil.

Nearly a quarter of China's imported oil in the first 11 months of 2011 came from these three Arab nations. The UAE is the No 3 oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Iran in the oil exporting group OPEC, while Qatar is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

As Arab nations strive for indigenous paths of development, they have illustrated a strong tendency to "Look East", said Shen Yamei, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies. China, she said, is particularly appealing to them.

"Cooperation between China and countries in West Asia and North Africa isn't limited to just energy. China's rise as a global power has attracted the popular attention of countries within this region. These countries see (China) as an important partner," Shen said.

Cooperation between China and Gulf states is due to mutual demand, Shen said.

Amid unstable oil prices and threats to global supply due to the international monetary system, excessive speculation, operational monopoly and geopolitical factors, Wen on Monday proposed the formation of a global energy market governance mechanism under the G20 framework.

Brent crude prices on Tuesday rose to $111 a barrel as tensions continued between Western powers and Iran, a major oil producer and supplier to Beijing, which has become the world's second-largest oil importer after the United States.

Cui Haipei in Beijing contributed to this story.

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