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Friday, January 27, 2023

China President Xi Jinping’s Saudi Arabia visit: A historic milestone

The China-GCC Summit, like the China-Arab Summit, brings together the leaders of China and the GCC for the very first time.

President Xi Jinping paid a historic state visit to Saudi Arabia from December 7 to 10. During this visit, he attended the first China-Arab States Summit and at the same time the China Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit for the very first time.

In addition to attending these two significant summits while in Saudi Arabia, President Xi also met privately with 20 Arab heads of state, including Saudi Arabia. President Xi’s trip to the Middle East is regarded as China’s greatest and highest-level diplomatic effort with the Arab world since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in terms of relevance and significance.

The significance of President Xi’s visit is already being carefully reviewed by the governments of Saudi Arabia and China, the Middle East, and international relations experts. 

Wang Yi, the State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China, briefed the media in Beijing on Saturday, underlining the significance of President Xi’s trip to the Middle East.

According to Wang Yi, president Xi’s pivotal trip to the Middle East from Wednesday to Saturday heralded the beginning of a new era in the broad and deepening growth of China’s relations with Arab nations, the GCC, and Saudi Arabia.

Wang referred to Xi’s participation in the first China-Arab Summit, the China-GCC Summit, and his meeting with Saudi Arabia’s leaders as major advancements in China’s diplomacy. Wang claimed that these actions showed that China and the Arab world had made the strategic decision to deepen their cooperation in defiance of common challenges. 

The first China-Arab States Summit’s keynote address was given by President Xi. According to Wang Yi, President Xi in his speech emphasized the significance China places on its relations with Arab nations. He claimed that Chinese-Arab relations have a long history that has been endured over time. The Chinese president urged China and Arab states to build a closer China-Arab community with a shared future by remaining independent and upholding both sides’ common interests, concentrating on economic growth and encouraging win-win cooperation, maintaining regional peace and working toward shared security, and stepping up cultural exchanges to foster mutual understanding and trust.

Wang noted that according to Xi, China will collaborate with the Arab side to advance eight major cooperation initiatives in the areas of inter-civilizational dialogue, youth development, food security, public health, green innovation, energy security, support for development, and security and stability.

According to Wang Yi, the Arab leaders attending the summit concurred with President Xi that China-Arab relations are built on mutual respect, cooperation, and reciprocity. They endorsed the Riyadh Declaration to make every possible effort to advance this partnership and construct a China-Arab common future community in the new era. The Arab leaders expressed strong support for the one-China policy on the Taiwan issue in the proclamation.

The China-GCC Summit, like the China-Arab Summit, brings together the leaders of China and the GCC for the very first time. Wang Yi added that President Xi highlighted in his speech how China-GCC strategic cooperation should be built upon four pillars like- unity, development, security, and civilisation.

In this context, the Chinese president proposed five priority areas for China-GCC cooperation in the following three to five years, including creating a new paradigm of all-dimensional energy cooperation, advancing financial and investment cooperation, establishing new areas of cooperation in innovation, science, and technology, seeking new breakthroughs in aerospace cooperation, and encouraging new highlights in language and cultural cooperation, Wang continued.

During his meetings with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, President Xi stated that China prioritizes the development of its relations with Saudi Arabia in its overall foreign relations, especiallyregarding its diplomacy in the Middle East, and pushes for greater progress in the China-Saudi Arabia comprehensive strategic partnership.

The Saudi king said that China and Saudi Arabia have reached an agreement on many subjects of mutual interest. In addition, the Saudi crown prince wants to increase Chinese involvement in his country’s industrialization. Wang saidboth sides agreed to collaborate on the Belt and Road Initiative together with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

President Xi during his visit to the Middle East also reaffirmed China’s position on two threatening issues for the Muslim world. The first is the Palestinian problem, and the second is Islamophobia. China’s president stated that his nation supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the basis of two states and China will fully cooperate with the development of Palestine. Apart from that, President Xi is strongly against Islamophobia and linking terrorism to a certain religion. His definite and unwavering stance has reassured Muslims throughout the entire world, including the Arab countries.

President Xi Jinping’s recent visit conveyed a positive message to the rest of the world, particularly the Middle East.With this landmark visit, a new era in China-Arab Relations was sparked by President Xi.

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Mahmud Hashim is a senior broadcast journalist at China Radio International

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