GT Voice: China-GCC synergy crucial for Middle East development

By Global Times (Global Times) 08:38, October 24, 2023

Photo: Screenshot from Wechat account of China's Ministry of Commerce

Photo: Screenshot from Wechat account of China's Ministry of Commerce

With the China-GCC Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum held in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province on Sunday, cooperation between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has entered a new era.

During the meeting, the two sides reached a broad consensus on topics such as jointly safeguarding the multilateral trading system, promoting two-way investment, deepening cooperation in the industry and supply chains, upgrading the level of connectivity and promoting energy transformation. They adopted a joint statement on deepening economic and trade cooperation.

This development is of great significance in the context of the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, both in terms of cooperation between China and the GCC countries and peaceful development in the region.

The fact that the increasingly close cooperative relationship between China and the GCC countries has not been affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shows the broad consensus between the two sides in political, economic and cultural exchanges. This situation is conducive to the steady development of the China-GCC relationship. Moreover, external pressure from the US and the West on the GCC countries and China has also indirectly driven the two sides closer.

After decades of geopolitical instability, countries in the Middle East have come to realize that the cost of conflicts weighs heavily on their military power, economic strength and social development, which has already undermined the region's external influence and economic development.

Also, with the global energy transition on the horizon, it has become urgent for the GCC countries to seek a peaceful environment for their own economic transition.

China happens to be an excellent partner for the GCC countries. Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao said that Chinese modernization will bring new opportunities for China-GCC cooperation. The GCC member states are actively promoting industrial diversification, and the prospects for China-GCC economic and trade cooperation are vast.

Increasingly close strategic ties between China and the GCC countries are based not just on political mutual trust, but also on economic cooperation and cultural exchanges, among other factors. When it comes to anti-China topics hyped by the US or the West, the GCC countries have expressed support to China in recent years, representing high levels of political mutual trust.

In terms of economic and trade cooperation, China and the GCC countries enjoy broad mutual benefits. In 2013, China became the largest trading partner with the GCC countries for the first time. In 2021, trade between China and the GCC countries exceeded $200 billion.

In particular, energy cooperation is a highlight and has achieved win-win results. Oil and natural gas cooperation between China and the GCC countries has been extended to the whole industry chain of exploration, exploitation, transportation, processing and refining.

In addition to energy trade, the Belt and Road Initiative has aligned with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, Kuwait's Vision 2035, Oman's Vision 2040 and Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030, laying the foundation for long-term cooperation. Bilateral cooperation has already been extended to artificial intelligence, e-commerce, life sciences and other digital infrastructure, which will be conducive to the region's energy structure adjustment and the transformation of its economic development models.

A main reason for geopolitical instability in the Middle East is the lack of common development. That's why an important goal of the GCC is to seek common development to reduce poverty, inequality and social unrest. This is considered the most crucial task in changing the underlying conditions that nurture conflict.

In this sense, the cooperation between China and the GCC countries, which has strong impetus to grow, especially under pressure from other destructive forces, will certainly witness further steady development.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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