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China, Gulf States Seek To Expand Ties

January 11, 2022

BEIJING – Expert: Cooperation in the fight against the pandemic, vaccines set a good example

The search for common development and the joint promotion of regional peace will be among the key issues discussed at upcoming meetings between State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and officials from the Gulf states, an expert said. .

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain as well as the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council will visit China from Monday to Friday.

“The visits show that Chinese diplomacy is very proactive and that China, as a great country, is ready to play a greater role in cooperating with countries in the region,” said Yu Guoqing, researcher at the Institute. of Social Sciences from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Studies of West Asia and Africa.

Wang visited six Middle Eastern countries in seven days early last year, the highest number of visits by a Chinese foreign minister to the region in a short period of time, Yu said. this year demonstrate the great importance China attaches to the countries of the Middle East, he said.

In the face of the pandemic, mutual assistance between China and the Arab states has set a fine example of solidarity and cooperation in difficult times, he added.

China has cooperated with all Arab states on vaccines and tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. Bahrain is one of the first countries to participate in international Phase III clinical trials of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines.

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, China and the Arab States, including the Gulf States, may further strengthen anti-pandemic responses to help build a global health community for all of them, said Yu.

Greater economic cooperation is also expected. Since the four Gulf states are all involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, China could deepen the synergy between the BRI and the national development strategies of these countries, Yu said.

The two sides could promote cooperation in traditional areas such as trade, investment, energy and infrastructure, as well as in emerging areas, including new energies and the digital economy.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman are the four major oil-producing members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is China’s largest source of oil imports.

In 2020, China became the Council’s largest trading partner, and the two sides are in the final stages of free trade area negotiations. In the next meetings, China and the Council may discuss ways to establish a China-GCC free trade area as soon as possible.

As the visits take place at a time when talks on relaunching the Iran nuclear deal are underway in Vienna, the Iranian nuclear issue will be on the agenda.

“The GCC countries are very concerned about Iran’s nuclear power development and the current situation,” Yu said, adding that China, as one of the participants in the Iran nuclear talks, is also ready to hear the views of these countries if it is to play its part in the talks.

Hua Liming, former Chinese ambassador to Iran, said China can play a constructive role in promoting security and stability in the Middle East by encouraging equal dialogue, consultation and mutual understanding.

“China is happy to see the relations between the Gulf states improving, which is conducive to peace and stability in the region,” Hua said.