|China, Arab states forum discusses diversified cooperation|
YINCHUAN, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- An economic and trade forum emphasizing diversified cooperation between China and Arab region countries kicked off on Wednesday in northwest China's Ningxia, the country's only provincial-level autonomous region for the Hui ethnic group.
The 3rd China-Arab States Economic and Trade Forum and the 2012 China (Ningxia) International Investment and Trade Fair are scheduled to be held from Sept. 12 to 16 in the region's capital, Yinchuan.
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, and foreign leaders including President of Central Africa Francois Bozize, President of Micronesia Emanuel Mori and Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Michael Thomas Somare attended the opening ceremony.
Li called on China and Arab countries to expand cooperation in finance, oil and gas and renewable energy.
"China and Arab states enjoy broad prospects for cooperation and the two sides need to expand the scale and upgrade the level of their cooperation," he said.
More than 7,000 domestic and overseas officials, exhibitors, purchasers and investors from Libya, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar and other developing countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, will attend the event, according to the organizing committee.
With the theme of "cooperation for future development," the forum includes a trade fair, seminars on energy, agriculture, finance, halal and cultural exchanges, and Arabic ethnic performances.
The annual event is jointly sponsored by China's Ministry of Commerce, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, and the government of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
DEEPEN OPENING TO WEST
Centuries ago, China and the Arab world were connected by the important Silk Road, and such a relation has been greatly improved because of the increasing role played by economic factors.
Li said the Chinese government has recently approved the establishment of a new economic inland pilot zone in Ningxia and a comprehensive bonded area in its capital Yinchuan, through which the Silk Road traversed.
The pilot zone and bonded area are aimed at boosting the country's domestic demand and deepening the opening-up of China's western inland area, Li said.
"While further opening the coastal regions to the east, China will also boost its opening to the west at the same time, and special economic zones, pilot zones and key border ports are being established to serve as vanguard," he explained.
Their establishment also demonstrates China's policies of developing the west and opening the west, and will help expand the country's opening-up range to developed countries as well as developing countries, he said.
"China is a stable market for products from Arab countries. The Chinese side is encouraging its companies to engage in manufacturing sector and infrastructure construction in Arab countries," according to Li.
SEEK DIVERSIFIED COOPERATION
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been selected as the guest country of honor. A UAE national pavilion has been set up at the forum, and a friendly soccer match between China and the UAE was held on Wednesday evening.
China has good diplomatic relations with Arab countries. Close ties between the two sides have covered not only economic trade and politics, but also culture, environmental protection, and personnel exchanges, said UAE Foreign Trade Minister Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi.
The countries are working together in diversified fields, based on mutual benefit and respect, she said.
The League of Arab States has become China's seventh-largest trading partner. Trade between China and the member countries surged 34.7 percent to 195.9 billion U.S. dollars last year.
"At the current rate, we believe that the number will rise to 300 billion U.S. dollars within two years," she said.
The 300-billion-U.S.-dollar trade target was determined this May, when foreign ministers in China and Arab countries gathered in Hammamet, Tunisia, to attend the China-Arab Cooperation Forum.
Qiu Hong, China's assistant minister of commerce, said investment fields between the two sides have expanded from oil and light industry to mechanical manufacturing and auto assembly. Cooperation among service factors such as finance, tourism and aviation have also been enriched with many achievements.
Both developing economies, China and the Arab nations are now in a critical period for economic and social development, and face a great task to improve people's well-being.
"Both parties should strengthen cooperation to fight exterior risks and achieve a win-win situation with mutual benefit," said Qiu.