Upcoming China-Arab states cooperation forum highlights solidarity, leading relations to new stage

By Chen Qingqing (Global Times) 09:28, May 28, 2024

From Tuesday to Saturday, at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Tunisia's President Kais Saied, and the United Arab Emirates' President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will pay state visits to China and attend the opening ceremony of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry also announced on Sunday that President Xi will attend the opening ceremony of the conference and deliver a keynote speech.

The attendance of four heads of state of Arab countries to the opening ceremony of the conference fully reflects the solidarity and cooperation between China and Arab countries, underscoring the willingness to push China-Arab relations to a new stage, a Chinese diplomat said.

Some Chinese experts said such a high-level conference would set a clear direction and enhance robust China-Arab relations, marking the forum's 20th anniversary this year as a significant milestone in bilateral cooperation. The China-Arab cooperation has been expanding to more comprehensive areas and is expected to play an active role in regional and global governance with a key focus on the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict, they noted.

Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and Mauritania's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Mauritanians Abroad Mohamed Salem Ould Merzouk will co-chair the conference. Foreign Ministers or representatives of the Arab states and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States will attend the conference.

The focus will be on implementing the consensus of the leaders, expanding cooperation between China and Arab countries in various fields, while accelerating the construction of a China-Arab community with a shared future, Vice Foreign Minister Deng Li told a press briefing about the conference on Monday.

Foreign Minister Wang will hold a joint press conference with the chairman of the Arab side and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and conduct bilateral meetings with foreign ministers of Arab countries and the Arab League Secretary-General, Deng said.

In past sessions of the China-Arab states cooperation forum, both sides have supported each other on their core interests, and amid intensified strategic competition among major powers, Arab countries have consistently supported China on key issues such as Taiwan question, the South China Sea, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong, Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Monday.

The Arab world and the Middle East also have their own concerns, including the Palestinian issue and security in the Gulf region. "These issues have started to be included within the framework of the China-Arab cooperation forum. Therefore, in the context of mutual support for each other's core interests, there is a need to strengthen cooperation in global governance, especially with the prominence of the Global South," Liu said.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have become new members of the BRICS mechanism. This development has created more opportunities for cooperation between China and the Arab world in the field of global governance, Liu noted.

The meeting plans to adopt outcome documents such as the "Beijing Declaration" and the "Forum's Action Plan for 2024-2026." These documents will further consolidate the China-Arab consensus, plan the next phase of cooperation, and jointly voice the China-Arab stance on the Palestinian issue.

"The cooperation between Arab countries and China has expanded from the past economic and trade and energy cooperation to a comprehensive cooperation, especially in the context of the fourth industrial revolution, both Arab countries and China are exploring their own paths to modernization," Sun Degang, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Monday.

"I believe there is a lot of room for expansion in China-Arab cooperation including in green energy, digitalization, big data, artificial intelligence and 5G," Sun said.

China and Arab countries are also partners in implementing the China-proposed Global Security Initiative, as China emphasizes partnership without alliance and mutual dependence, and those new security concepts can also play a positive role in the governance of security in the Middle East, the expert added.

At the ministerial meeting of this forum, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang and Arab foreign ministers will continue to conduct in-depth discussions on the Palestinian issue, forming a common voice between China and the Arab countries, Deng further introduced.

The goal is to end the conflict in Gaza as soon as possible, achieve peace, and urge the international community to implement the "two-state solution" with greater determination and more specific actions, ultimately achieving long-term stability in the Middle East, the senior Chinese official said.

"Regarding the Gaza conflict, there are three short-term and long-term goals that China has always insisted on," Deng said.

In the short term, we demand an immediate cease-fire and the implementation of the cease-fire resolution passed by the UN Security Council. Secondly, we must focus on alleviating the humanitarian crisis, including ensuring humanitarian aid, opposing the forced displacement of the Palestinian people, and collective punishment of the people of Gaza. Thirdly, we must prevent the spillover effect of this conflict and maintain peace and stability in the entire region, which are our short-term goals, he noted.

In the long term, the Middle East issue has not been resolved, fundamentally because the independence and statehood of Palestine have not been achieved. This historical injustice that has lasted for decades has not been corrected. The true implementation of the "two-state solution" and the resolution of the concerns of all parties through political means to achieve the goal of Palestinian independence and statehood is the fundamental solution to the Middle East issue and achieving peace and security in the region, Deng further stressed.

Only by achieving the "two-state solution" and fulfilling the historical aspirations of the Palestinian people can the region truly achieve peace. And only by achieving this goal can the security of Israel be fundamentally guaranteed, he said.

In response to whether the US has left an increasingly large vacuum in the Middle East or whether China views the region more strategically important, Deng told the press briefing that China has always believed that there is no vacuum in the Middle East, and that the people of the Middle East are the masters of the Middle East.

The issues in the Middle East should be resolved by the countries and people of the Middle East through consultation, Deng noted. "You may have noticed that China's recent diplomatic efforts in the Middle East have become more active, but our efforts to promote peace in the Middle East have never been absent."

With the recent outbreak of the Gaza conflict, the potential risks of conflict in the Middle East are rising. As a responsible major country, China believes that we have a duty to contribute to promoting peace in the Middle East and to take on the responsibility we should bear to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, Deng noted.

At this moment, the international community should all act from a standpoint of public interest and justice to do something for peace in the Middle East, he said.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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