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Chinese, Arabs eye deepening ties through cooperation forum
2012/06/01
 

HAMMAMET, Tunisia, May 31 (Xinhua) -- As the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum was held Thursday in Tunisian eastern city of Hammamet, senior officials and analysts from both China and Arab countries eye the forum as a practical, beneficial mechanism to deepen ties.

COOPERATION BASED ON MUTUAL TRUST

Thursday's meeting is the first of its kind after the upheaval in the Arab region last year. Advisor to the Arab League (AL) secretary general Khalid bin Naif El-Habas, who chairs an AL delegation to the forum, said Wednesday that the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, one of the most comprehensive and effective mechanisms for cooperation between Arab and other countries, should play a more significant role and strengthen political negotiations to deal with the international and regional issues in the new situation.

"Under the backdrop that political changes have taken place in several Arab countries since the beginning of last year, the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum was held as scheduled in Tunisia, which shows that all the member states of the forum have the willingness to jointly promote the reciprocal, pragmatic cooperation," Chinese ambassador to Tunisia Huo Zhengde told Xinhua.

"Both the two sides have the political intention to further promote their cooperation under the new situation, so this conference shows the needs for the China-Arab relationship to seek new development and breakthrough while maintaining its steadiness, " the ambassador said.

According to Huo, the key to the strategic relationship between China and Arab countries lies in the promotion of political mutual trust. This point of view was echoed by Zhu Weilie, the honorary director of the Middle East Institute of China's Shanghai International Studies University.

"After the upheaval in the Arab countries (last year), China got an opportunity to know the demands of Arab states, so as to deepen their cooperative relationship," Zhu said, "China and Arab countries have always been politically supportive to each other, and to enhance political mutual trust is the basis of developing relationship."

PRAGMATIC MEASURES TO BE TAKEN

According to the communique and 2012-2014 action plan issued after Thursday's conference, China and Arab countries will continue to strengthen political negotiations and cooperation under the forum's framework on major regional and international issues. The communique stipulated to establish a bilateral and collective disputes-solving mechanism, and set a target of increasing the China-Arab trade volume to 300 billion U.S. dollars in 2014. China also agreed in the communique to enhance cooperation in human resource with Arab states, pledging to train 5,000 people in various sectors for Arab countries from 2012 to 2014.

The two sides also agreed to take measures to deepen cultural exchanges, including to encourage the establishment of cultural centers in each other.

AL Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said at a press conference after Thursday's meeting that besides the agreements the two sides have reached during the ministerial meeting, an practical action plan has also been drawn.

Arab officials and analysts viewed the measures by the forum as pragmatic and beneficial to both peoples.

"The China-Arab cooperation has brought lots of benefits to Arab people," said Muhammad Abd el-Wahab Al-Sakit, a former AL envoy to China, "Through its investment in some big economic and development programs of the Arab countries, China has brought practical benefits in various aspects in the Arab society and economy."

Cairo University professor Salah Salem said, "The advantage of China-Arab cooperation lies in its diversity. It covers various areas, not limited to politics."

ECONOMY TO REMAIN AS FOCUS

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr told Xinhua in an interview before the conference that economy will remain as the focus of the cooperation between China and Arab countries in the future.

"China and Arab countries are complementary, rather than competitive, in their economy, which is very important," Amr said, "When they are complementary, their cooperation will be extensive and open. For example, in the areas of agriculture and renewable energy, Arab states can learn from China through joint programs."

"Egypt and the Arab world is experiencing a rapid change," Amr said, "Arab countries should focus on creating jobs for youths, because there is a huge young population in these countries. China, which has plenty of experience in this regard, as well as abundant fund, can help to create more job opportunities for Arab youths."

Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah told Xinhua in an interview that "Trade between China and Arab states has a space to grow... We hope that we can strengthen our bilateral ties and learn from China's experience for developing economy."

According to Zhu, Arab countries need China's help and experience particularly in the new situation. "China has succeeded in dealing with the balance among reform, development and stability and has seen a rapid economic growth. Under the backdrop of economic globalization, Arab countries that has just experienced political changes really need China's experience," he said.

"The cooperation between China and Arab states is reciprocal," Amr said, "After Arab countries succeed in development and their people's lives are improved, their trade with China, especially the import from China, will also increase."

 
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