-- Keynote Speech by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming
At the Opening Ceremony of the First China-Arab Entrepreneurs Summit
Dubai, 18 May 2023
Mr. Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence of the United Arab Emirates,
Ambassador Zhang Yiming,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to join you at the first China-Arab Entrepreneurs Summit. Let me begin by expressing warm congratulations on the opening of the summit and sincere appreciation to the hosts for their thoughtful arrangements.
Although I have been to the Sino-European Entrepreneur Summit many times, this is the first time I attend a gathering of Chinese and Arab entrepreneurs in an Arab state. The theme of this summit “Seizing Emerging Opportunities" cannot be more fitting.
My country China has entered a new era and started a new journey. There are many emerging opportunities. At the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held last October, a blueprint was drawn up for advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts by pursuing a Chinese path to modernization, and a clarion call was sounded for building a modern socialist country in all respects. In March this year, at the first “two sessions" (the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference sessions) held after the 20th CPC Congress, a comprehensive plan was worked out for China’s economic and social development in 2023, and arrangements made to set the stage for building a modern socialist country in all respects. As President Xi Jinping said, “China will provide new opportunities for global development with new accomplishments in Chinese modernization, lend new impetus to humanity’s search for paths toward modernization and better social systems, and work with all countries to advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind." Today, China is the main trading partner for over 140 countries and regions. It is making US$320 million of direct investment around the world each day and attracting over 3,000 foreign businesses every month. While Chinese modernization is conceived in China, the opportunities it brings belong to the world. China’s high-quality development and high-standard opening up will deliver more development opportunities to Arab states and the rest of the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a former Chinese ambassador to Egypt, I have a special bond with Arab states and have been closely following the friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Arab states. At the end of last year, the first China-Arab States Summit was held in Saudi Arabia with fruitful outcomes. The two sides agreed to work together for a China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era, thus sending a strong message for firmly supporting each other, enhancing solidarity and coordination, promoting common development, and upholding multilateralism. A new chapter was opened in China-Arab relations.
A towering tree grows from its roots, and a long river flows from its source. The tradition of friendship between China and Arab countries goes back a long time and rests on a solid foundation. In ancient times, the Chinese and Arab nations were connected by the Silk Road. Since modern times, the Chinese and Arab peoples have supported each other in their struggle against colonialism and hegemonism, and helped each other in their pursuit of national development. Historic progress has been achieved in our wide-ranging cooperation both in breadth and depth.
In recent years, China and Arab countries have stood together through thick and thin, setting a good example of South-South cooperation. Our ties are closer than ever. To date, China has established comprehensive strategic partnerships or strategic partnerships with 12 Arab states and the Arab League. We have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with 21 Arab states and the Secretariat of the Arab League.
In 2004, the two sides jointly announced the establishment of a China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. After nearly 20 years of development, 17 cooperation mechanisms have been set up under the Forum, including the Ministerial Meeting, the Senior Officials' Meeting, and the Symposium on China-Arab Relations and China-Arab Civilization Dialogue. The Forum has become an important engine driving China-Arab relations and a shining example of cross-regional cooperation.
The ancient Silk Road bore witness to our economic and trade cooperation, which is the most longstanding and vibrant dimension of China-Arab relations and an important bond connecting the Chinese and Arab peoples. In recent years, there have been more highlights in this regard.
First, new heights in trade and investment cooperation. Our efforts to advance trade and investment facilitation have enabled two-way investment and trade to grow many-fold. In 2022, China-Arab trade exceeded US$430 billion, double the size of 10 years ago.
Second, deepening energy cooperation. The “oil and gas plus" cooperation model is moving forward, as evidenced by the new progress in onshore and offshore cooperation between China and UAE. Meanwhile, with a view to green and sustainable development, the two sides have explored more cooperation in new energy such as solar power, wind power, and hydropower, launching photovoltaic cooperation projects in many Arab states.
Third, breakthroughs in high and new technology cooperation. Our two sides have set up mechanisms under the Forum such as the China-Arab States Technology Transfer and Innovation Cooperation Conference and the China-Arab States BDS Cooperation Forum to facilitate new breakthroughs in cooperation on high and new technologies including 5G communications, nuclear energy, and space satellites. More than 200 mega cooperation projects have been implemented under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Starting from a new historical point, China-Arab cooperation will only grow closer and become more wide-ranging. As for how to seize emerging opportunities, the following four points will be important.
First, building common understandings and enhancing strategic trust. Peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit have long been the abiding theme of China-Arab interactions. Our two sides have firmly supported each other on issues regarding each other}s core interests and major concerns and had close coordination in international and regional affairs. President Xi Jinping’s proposals, including the Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI), the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI), and his vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, have been widely and warmly received by Arab states. Facing the changes of the world, of our times, and of the historic trajectory, we need to forge greater synergy between our strategies, keep advancing high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, meet challenges on food and energy security, and pursue higher-quality and more sustainable development, so that the China-Arab friendship will enjoy new dynamism.
Second, opening up wider and forging closer business ties. International business and trade exchanges are essential for countries to achieve complementarity. They also function as an important driver of global growth and human progress.
Past and present experiences show that protectionism and unilateralism seriously undermine the interests of all countries. China is ready to work with Arab states to support the WTO-centered, rules-based multilateral trading regime, stand for free trade and fair trade, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and keep the global industrial and supply chains stable and unimpeded.
China will open up even wider no matter how the international landscape may evolve. We will continue to deepen reform, build a market-oriented, world-class business environment governed by a sound legal framework, and make China a big global market and a favored destination for foreign investment. Companies from Arab states and beyond are welcomed to do business and invest in China.
Third, spearheading innovation and scaling up cooperation. As the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation unfolds, there is a compelling need for countries to integrate into the global network and cooperate more closely on innovation. Operating at the forefront of the market, businesses are undoubtedly the main powerhouse for creation and innovation.
In recent years, China and Arab states have developed a system of close technological cooperation using bilateral and multilateral platforms, covering areas including wind and solar powers and water-efficient agriculture. A coordinated technology transfer network has been established connecting several thousand Chinese and foreign research institutes and companies. With the various links of the innovation chain in mind, Chinese and Arab businesses need to prioritize technological cooperation, build a community of innovation defined by distinctive features, complementarity and common progress, and move faster to deliver cooperation projects.
Fourth, promoting common prosperity and bettering people’s lives. We Chinese often say, “In prosperity, one should care for the wellbeing of all", meaning that a person enjoying good fortune should do good for the wider world. So common prosperity is what Chinese modernization is about. It is also China’s principle and objective when seeking common development with its global partners.
As things stand, poverty remains a “silent crisis" around the world. Poverty eradication is a shared goal for human development, and the betterment of local people’s lives is the social responsibility of all entrepreneurs. I hope that while seeking the development of your own businesses, Chinese and Arab business leaders could generate more local jobs, boost local industries, and deliver real benefits to more people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As an Arab proverb goes, “Actions are fruits while words are but leaves." With a millennia-long friendship between us, China and Arab states have supported one another with concrete actions and stayed true to the principles of solidarity and mutually beneficial cooperation. I am convinced that with Chinese and Arab business leaders working together, we will write a new chapter in China-Arab cooperation and usher in a brighter future for China-Arab relations in the new era.
To conclude, I wish the China-Arab Entrepreneurs Summit a full success.
Thank you. Shukran!
Author: Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, China Forum expert.