Friendship between China and Arab states dates back to ancient times. Over two thousand years ago, land and maritime Silk Roads already linked the Chinese and Arab nations. In the long stretches of history, peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, learning from each other, mutual benefit and win-win results have always been the main theme of exchanges between China and Arab countries.
The founding of the People’s Republic of China and the independence of Arab countries created a new era for China-Arab friendly exchanges. From 1956 to 1990, China established diplomatic relations with all 22 Arab countries. China firmly supports Arab national liberation movement, firmly supports Arab countries’ struggle to uphold sovereignty and territorial integrity, pursue and safeguard national interests, and combat external interference and aggression, and firmly supports Arab countries’ cause of developing the national economy and building up the countries. Arab countries have given China strong support in restoring its lawful seat at the United Nations and on issues like the Taiwan question.
After the end of the Cold War, both China and Arab countries have followed the world trend of peace, development and cooperation, respected each other, treated each other as equals, and committed themselves to deepening the traditional friendship and the bilateral relations. Cooperation in political, trade and economic, scientific and technological, cultural and educational, military, health, sports, news, and other fields has achieved fruitful results, thus enabling the establishment of the friendly and cooperative relationship oriented toward the 21st century.
In 2004, China-Arab States Cooperation Forum was set up. Since then, it has developed into a collective cooperation platform covering many fields and with more than ten mechanisms. In 2010, China and Arab countries established the strategic cooperative relations of comprehensive cooperation and common development, and China-Arab collective cooperation entered a new stage of comprehensive development and upgrading. President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the opening ceremony of the Sixth Ministerial Conference of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, identifying key areas and priority directions of China-Arab collective cooperation, and providing guidance for the development of the China-Arab relations and the Forum.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Arab countries 60 years ago, cooperation in all fields has been constantly deepened. China has built comprehensive strategic partnership, strategic partnership or strategic cooperative partnership with eight Arab countries, and has set up a strategic dialogue mechanism with the Gulf Cooperation Council. Arab countries as a whole have become China’s biggest supplier of crude oil and the 7th biggest trading partner. China’s proposed initiatives of jointly building the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, establishing a “1+2+3” cooperation pattern (to take energy cooperation as the core, infrastructure construction and trade and investment facilitation as the two wings, and three high and new tech fields of nuclear energy, space satellite and new energy as the three breakthroughs), and industrial capacity cooperation, are well received by Arab countries. Both sides have broad consensus on safeguarding state sovereignty and territorial integrity, defending national dignity, seeking political resolution to hotspot issues, and promoting peace and stability in the Middle East. We share similar views on issues such as reform of the United Nations, climate change and Doha Round trade negotiations, and maintain sound coordination and cooperation. Cultural and educational exchanges are more frequent and people-to-people ties are getting closer with enhanced mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
Over the past 60 years, China-Arab friendly cooperation has made historic leaps in breadth and depth. It has become a model of South-South cooperation and gained the following successful experience: both sides have always respected and treated each other as equals and remained brothers, friends and partners no matter what happens on the world arena; both sides have insisted on the principle of mutual benefit, win-win and common development and have pursued common interests and sustainable development no matter what changes or developments take place on either side; and both sides have promoted dialogue, exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations, and have always respected each other’s social system and development path no matter what differences exist in ideology.
The Chinese government has issued the first China’s Arab Policy Paper on the basis of reviewing and summarizing the experience in the development of China-Arab relations. It stipulates the guiding principle for developing China-Arab relations, offers the blueprint for China-Arab mutually beneficial cooperation, and reiterates the political will of commitment to peace and stability in the Middle East, in order to promote China-Arab relations to a new and higher level.
Part I Deepen China-Arab Strategic Cooperative Relations of Comprehensive Cooperation and Common Development
The world is experiencing profound and complex changes. The trend toward a multipolar world and economic globalization is deepening, and cultural diversity and the information society continue to move forward. Changes in the international configuration and international order are accelerating. All countries in the world are seizing the opportunity to readjust their development strategies, promote reform and innovation, speed up economic transformation and open up new development horizons. At the same time, the world economy is still in a period of deep transformation, with geopolitical factors becoming more prominent, regional turbulences rising one after another, non-traditional security and global challenges increasing and the gap between the North and the South widening. It remains an arduous journey to advance mankind’s noble cause of peace and development.
China is the largest developing country in the world and is working hard to realize the two centenary goals and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, which is to build a strong, prosperous, democratic, culturally-advanced and harmonious modern socialist country. China will continue to uphold the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation, be committed to peaceful development, pursue a win-win strategy of opening up and promote the formation of a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation.
Arab states are situated in the converging area of the Asian and African continents, characterized by religious and cultural diversities, time-honored culture and history, unique resource endowment and great potentials for development. Currently, Arab states are independently exploring the development paths suited to their own national realities. They are committed to pursuing industrialization, enhancing employment and improving people’s livelihood. They are active in promoting peace and stability in the region and are playing important roles in regional and international affairs.
China and Arab states are both developing countries with their combined territory, population and economic aggregate accounting for 1/6, 1/4 and 1/8 of the world’s total respectively. Different in natural endowment and development level, China and Arab countries are all in an important development stage and have a shared mission of rejuvenating the nation. We need to collaborate with each other more closely, and learn from each other along the road of development, strengthen cooperation in seeking common development and promoting regional peace, and echo each other in building a new type of international relations, so as to safeguard state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and to promote stability, economic development and well-being of our peoples.
China will continue to carry forward China-Arab traditional friendship, enrich and deepen our all-round, multi-layer, wide-ranging cooperation, promote sustainable and sound development of our strategic cooperative relations featuring all-round cooperation and common development, and safeguard peace, stability and development of the region and the world at large.
Arab states are China’s important partners in following the peaceful development path, strengthening unity and cooperation among developing countries and establishing a new type of international relations with win-win cooperation at its core. China has always approached the China-Arab relations from a strategic height. It is China’s long-held diplomatic principle to consolidate and deepen China-Arab traditional friendship. China will adhere to the right approach to justice and interests and promote peace, stability and development of Arab states while seeking better development of China, to achieve win-win cooperation, common development and a better future of the China-Arab strategic and cooperative relations.
China upholds the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, namely, mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence. China supports the Middle East peace process and the establishment of an independent state of Palestine with full sovereignty, based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. China supports the Arab League and its member states’ efforts to this end. We adhere to political solution to regional hot spot issues, and support the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free and WMD-free zone in the Middle East. We support positive efforts made by Arab states in strengthening unity, curbing the spread of extremist thoughts and fighting terrorism. China respects choices made by the Arab people, and supports Arab states in exploring their own development paths suited to their national conditions. We hope to enhance the sharing of governance experience with Arab states.
China is willing to have pragmatic cooperation in the principle of mutual benefit and win-win results with Arab states. In particular, in the process of jointly pursuing the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative, China is willing to coordinate development strategies with Arab states, put into play each other’s advantages and potentials, promote international production capacity cooperation and enhance cooperation in the fields of infrastructure construction, trade and investment facilitation, nuclear power, space satellite, new energy, agriculture and finance, so as to achieve common progress and development and benefit our two peoples. China is willing to cooperate with Arab states to promote the new type of cooperation mechanism featuring openness and reciprocality, mutual benefit and win-win results. According to Arab states’ needs, China will continue to provide assistance within our means to Arab states through bilateral and multilateral channels, to help them improve self-development capability and people’s livelihood.
China is willing to work with Arab states to contribute to diversified development and mutual learning among world civilizations. We will enhance people-to-people exchanges, strengthen cooperation in such areas as science, education, culture, health, radio, film and television, deepen understanding and friendship between the two peoples, promote mutual learning and integration between the two cultures, build a communication bridge between the two peoples, and jointly contribute to the progress of human civilization.
China is willing to strengthen consultation and coordination with Arab states, and jointly uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, safeguard international equity and justice, and make the international order more fair and just. On major international issues, such as the United Nations reform, climate change, food and energy security, both sides respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, support each other’s justifiable demand and reasonable propositions, and staunchly safeguard the common interests of developing countries.