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Amir urges closer Arab-Sino ties


HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Chinese President Xi Jinping pose with participants of the 8th Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing.

BEIJING, July 10, (Agencies): His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Tuesday called for pushing forward mechanisms of cooperation between Arab countries and China to attain mutual interests and strengthen historical ties. Addressing the 8th session of the ministerial meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, held in Beijing today, His Highness the Amir said that Arab countries should work with China in order to overcome the crises of some Arab nations thanks to China’s international weight and influence as well as sincere commitment to the UN Charter.

“We believe that boosting mechanisms of cooperation between us will contribute to achieving supreme interests of our Arab nation and our friends, and to enhancing historical relations between the two sides, which we are keen to develop and promote in all fields,” His Highness the Amir said. He added that the promotion and development of cooperation with China would help achieve political consultations and coordination on ongoing issues and crises, thus maintaining regional and international security and stability.

Thanking Chinese President Xi Jinping for inviting him as a guest of honor, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad said Monday’s meeting comes within the framework of the forum so as to complete the march of long and historical relations through which cooperation with China is viewed with broad horizons and unlimited optimism. “This cooperation, which was forged a decade and a half ago, would see neither growth nor continuation, and would not even reach the desired goals, as long as we are living in tense and unstable situations in our Arab nation, since the Palestinian cause, which is our central issue, is still far from being given the due world attention and priority. Yet, all this poses a threat to our security and stability,” he said.

“The tragic conditions in Yemen, Syria, Libya and Somalia are still breaking the hearts of our Arab nation’s sons as their destiny is still unknown, prompting us to resort to our Chinese friends so as to work together to overcome our challenges,” he lamented. Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad believed that China could play a role in this regard thanks to its international weight and influence as well as sincere commitment to the principles of the UN Charter.

His Highness the Amir called for pushing forward Arab-Sino cooperation to new horizons with a view to attaining mutual interests, stressing support for China’s policy, territorial integrity and One-China Principle, along with its efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflicts over territories and territorial waters through friendly consultations and negotiations, and in line with bilateral agreements and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

His Highness the Amir said that there were talks with Chinese friends on gigantic future projects that reflect a real partnership with Beijing, referring to practical steps in this regard like the Silk project and Kuwait Islands, voicing absolute confidence in the Chinese leadership’s directions and credibility. On trade exchange, he elaborated that China is ranked the second importer of Kuwait’s oil and its derivatives, adding that Kuwait’s non-oil exports to Beijing reach USD 480 million, while China’s exports to Kuwait hit USD 5.1 billion, pointing to Kuwaiti huge investments in China.

Bilateral cooperation, which is based on the fact that China is Kuwait’s key trade partner, represents an essential dimension and important addition in line with mechanisms of cooperation with Beijing, His Highness the Amir pointed out. Constructive and continuing Chinese-Gulf cooperation is a strong catalyst for bilateral cooperation within the Arab framework, as negotiations of a free trade zone between GCC member states and China are a reflection of this joint cooperation, he said, estimating Arab- Sino trade exchange at USD 191 billion in 2017.

Arab countries are looking forward to promising partnership in the Belt and Road Project which has strategic goals and unlimited opportunities for promoting cooperation and linkage, facilitating transportation, doubling investment openings and boosting global economy, His Highness the Amir noted. He underlined the utmost importance of cooperation between the two sides in the energy sector through carrying out mega investment ventures in oil and natural gas, and tapping the Chinese expertise in the peaceful use of nuclear and renewable energy. His Highness the Amir concluded by emphasizing that today’s critical circumstances and conditions require more insistence on realizing progress and the aspired results.

Belt and Road Initiative
A major forum over China’s ties with the Arab region and Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative” embody the vibrant relationship both sides share, Kuwaiti Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al- Hamad Al-Sabah said on Tuesday.

The Chinese government’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, a development strategy proposed by Beijing to focus on connectivity and cooperation with Eurasian nations, has been a launch pad for closer bilateral ties, he told KUNA on the sidelines of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF). “Lack of geographical proximity notwithstanding,” the Kuwaiti foreign minister, who heads his country’s delegation to the CASCF’s ministeriallevel talks, urged the need to establish a platform for dialogue as a constant form of engagement.

Meanwhile, he spoke of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s earnest desire to reach out to Arab states and his concern over some of the most pressing issues facing that region. “As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, we need to engage China in constructive dialogue over these issues,” the Kuwaiti foreign minister said, citing the Israeli- Palestinian conflict in particular. He also underlined China’s contributions towards efforts to rebuild a number of Arab nations that have been torn apart by war, with Beijing allocating a sum of USD 100 million in aid for Syria and Yemen, among other countries.

Joint marketing
Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) signed on Tuesday a cooperation agreement with China’s Shan- Dong Refining and Chemical Group to market Kuwaiti crude oil. The agreement was signed by KPC’s CEO and Deputy Chairman of the Board Nizar Al-Adsani and Shan- Dong’s Chairman of Board of Directors Li Xiangping.

The deal, which was inked on the sidelines of His Highness the Amir’s visit to China, aims to expand joint investment platform in oil and logistic industries, Al-Adsani told KUNA. ShanDong, named after a coastal province in East China, is one of the leading oil industry bases in the country and known for hosting a large number of private and state-owned oil refineries, he noted. Last April, KPC hosted a visiting high-level delegation of representatives from a number of oil refinery companies in the province, Al-Adsani recalled.

The delegation was acquainted with the Kuwaiti expertise in petroleum manufactures, he added. The visit had a positive impact on boosting cooperation between KPC and Chinese oil companies, resulting in inking a mutual agreement to export the first Kuwaiti crude oil batch to ShanDong Group at the end of July, said Al-Adsani. For his part, Li expressed joy at signing the deal with KPC, and forecasted huge economic outcomes as a result, for both sides and countries. He affirmed to KUNA the Group’s willingness to continued cooperation with KPC in various fields, particularly crude oil, reiterating full cooperation with Kuwait in all areas to attain mutual profitable outcomes. China will provide Arab states with $20 billion in loans for economic development, President Xi Jinping told top Arab officials Tuesday, as Beijing seeks to build its infl uence in the Middle East and Africa.

The money will be earmarked for “projects that will produce good employment opportunities and positive social impact in Arab States that have reconstruction needs,” said Xi, without providing further details. It is part of a special Chinese programme for “economic reconstruction” and “industrial revitalisation,” Xi told participants at a China-Arab States forum in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Beijing is also prepared to provide another one billion yuan to countries in the region to “build capacity for stability maintenance,” Xi said, using a term commonly associated with policing and surveillance. Since taking office, Xi has overseen a concerted effort to expand Chinese influence in the Middle East and Africa, including the construction of the country’s first military base in Arab League state Djibouti. China has already provided vast sums to Arab countries, with Djibouti alone owing some $1.3 billion, according to estimates from the US-based China Africa Research Initiative.

The financial largesse has raised concerns both at home and abroad over the vulnerability of poor nations to such massive debt. Last year Sri Lanka was forced to hand over majority control of its Hambantota port to China after being unable to repay its loans. At the heart of Xi’s vision is the “Belt and Road” initiative, a $1-trillion infrastructure programme billed as a modern revival of the ancient Silk Road that once carried fabrics, spices and a wealth of other goods between Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

The Arab states’ position at the centre of the ancient trade route makes them “natural partners” in China’s new undertaking, he said, adding he expected the summit would end with an agreement on cooperation on the initiative. “Chinese and Arab peoples, though far apart in distance, are as close as family,” he said, describing a romanticised history of trade along the Silk Road.

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