Written Interview with Emirates News Agency by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Q1. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the first Gulf nation to have a strategic partnership with China. How do you view the UAE’s strategic importance in China’s foreign relations and policies?
Wang: As an important country and a significant strategic partner and diplomatic priority for China in the Middle East and the Gulf region, the UAE has a special place in China’s foreign relations. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 35 years ago, both sides have adhered to the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit in China-UAE relations. Our relationship, having stood the test of the changing international situation, has become a good example of state-to-state relations and a front-runner in China’s relations with countries in the region. During President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to the UAE in July, 2018, our two countries announced the elevation of our relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership, marking a new era in our bilateral ties. Our two countries enjoy solid political mutual trust and mutual understanding and support on issues bearing on each other’s core interests and major concerns. With progress in energy, finance, infrastructure and industrial cooperation, our practical cooperation has been thriving in multiple areas. Our close cooperation on law enforcement and security matters is a strong underpinning for our common security. Frequent people-to-people and cultural exchanges have consolidated public support for our friendly relations.
His Highness the Crown Prince is about to pay a state visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. The two leaders are expected to have a deep exchange of views on the bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest, and draw a new blueprint for China-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership. The visit will go down as another milestone in the history of our relations.
Q2. Can you please talk about UAE’s strategic role in China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative?
Wang: The UAE, with its favorable location, rich energy and resource endowment, and peaceful and stable society, is an economic, trade, financial and shipping hub in the Middle East and the Gulf region and China’s natural partner in Belt and Road cooperation. During President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UAE last year, an intergovernmental MOU was signed, taking our Belt and Road cooperation to a new stage.
Guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, China and the UAE have actively leveraged our respective strengths and sought greater complementarity between each other’s development strategies, leading to fruitful outcomes in our Belt and Road cooperation: the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone is being built; the whole-industrial-chain cooperation in oil and gas is producing substantial results; the Khalifa Port Container Terminal Two in Abu Dhabi, a joint China-UAE project, is up and running; the Hassyan Clean Coal Power Plant is under construction; and the Chinese language is taught in more and more schools across the emirates. Cooperation in these fields not only benefits our two countries and peoples, but also serves as a positive example and a pacesetter for Belt and Road cooperation between China and Gulf countries. I believe as our two countries strive for substantive, steady and high-quality development of Belt and Road cooperation, the UAE will become a shining pearl along the Belt and Road.
Q3. China-UAE relations have seen considerable progress in recent years. How do you think this upcoming state visit will help tap the full potential of our bilateral relations and promote the cooperation between our two countries in various fields?
Wang: China-UAE relations enjoy a huge potential and a bright future in which a lot can be achieved. In recent years, thanks to the personal guidance and efforts of our leaders, our two sides have extended our fruitful cooperation to many new areas, greatly enriching the China-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership.
As advocates of open and inclusive development, both China and the UAE are committed to realizing our respective dreams of national rejuvenation. This shared bond has brought our peoples closer and deepened our understanding of each other’s development paths, thus laying a solid political and social foundation for further strengthening our cooperation across the board.
China and the UAE have a shared interest in safeguarding peace and development in the Middle East and the Gulf region. China has important trade, energy and security interests in this region ,and is ready to work with all sides and play a constructive role in promoting safe and secure international shipping lanes and stability in the region. This will also bring new opportunities for China-UAE cooperation.
Each with its own distinct strengths, our two economies have much to offer each other. After years of development, the UAE has become a leading country in the Middle East in terms of breadth, depth and outcomes of cooperation with China. It has for many years been the second largest trading partner and top export market of China’s among Arab countries. Landmark projects such as the Abu Dhabi onshore and offshore oil concessions, the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone and the Khalifa Port Container Terminal Two are seeing smooth progress. Looking ahead, it is important for the two sides to continue working on the existing projects and move toward a pattern of cooperation with energy as the centerpiece and investment and infrastructure development as the two priority areas. It is also important for us to break new ground by expanding cooperation in artificial intelligence, 5G, aerospace, high-speed railway and other high-tech areas.
We are convinced that with the personal commitment and strategic guidance of our two leaders, China-UAE relations will see greater development at a higher level and in broader areas.
Q4. The enhanced Chinese-Emirati relations have positively reflected in people-to-people relations as well. Visa-free travel between both nations, cultural exchanges, promotion of both Chinese and Arabic languages in each other’s countries, etc. have played a major role in this regard. What are your views on expanding these relations further?
Wang: People-to-people ties hold the key to good state-to-state relations. Such ties are an important part of China-UAE relations. The UAE hosts the largest Chinese community in the Middle East; nearly 300,000 Chinese are living and working in your country. The UAE is the first country in West Asia and North Africa to reach agreement with China on mutual exemption of visas for holders of all types of passports. Since this policy entered into force in January last year, visits between our two countries have seen rapid growth, significantly enhancing mutual understanding between our peoples. With the strong support of His Highness the Crown Prince, the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Center for Arabic Language and Islamic Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University is playing an important role in teaching and promoting the Arabic language in China. The Crown Prince’s ambition to introduce Chinese courses in 200 schools in the UAE has become a flagship project for connecting our two peoples. China will continue its full support to the UAE in realizing this goal at an early date. Next year, Dubai will play host to the first World Expo in the Middle East, something all regional countries take great pride in. China will continue to actively prepare for its participation in Expo 2020 Dubai and make its contribution to the full success of this event. China will work with the UAE to further deepen our exchanges and cooperation in culture, education, tourism, youth and other fields, with a view to bringing the hearts of our two peoples closer and consolidating the foundation for China-UAE friendship.