China, UAE mark 35 years of diplomatic relations with new cooperation pledges

 

Abu Dhabi: China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are enjoying their “best period in history” while celebrating a milestone in their diplomatic relationship, a Chinese diplomat has said.

“This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE. Our relationship is currently at its best period in history,” Ni Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE, told the Emirates News Agency, WAM.

Ambassador Ni Jian (WAM)

Ambassador Ni Jian (WAM)

Among all Middle East countries, the UAE has the deepest, broadest and most fruitful cooperation with China, the ambassador said as Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, embarks on a state visit to China this week.

The visit comes almost one year after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the UAE.

“The exchange of visits between our top leaderships within a year is testimony to the high standards and special significance of China-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, thus marking a milestone in the development of our bilateral relationship,” Ni Jian said.

“The visit by Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed is expected to consolidate and deepen our political and strategic mutual trust, and elevate our political, military, commercial, cultural, people-to-people and technological cooperation across the board.”

It will further substantiate the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to open “a glorious new chapter of China-UAE friendship, he added.

The “Belt and Road Initiative” proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping synergizes with the “Restore the Silk Road” vision proposed by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Ni Jian said.

Bilateral trade between China and the UAE reached $11.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, a 16.21 percent increase compared with the same period in 2018, he added.

Over 1.1 million Chinese tourists visited the UAE in 2018, taking advantage of the mutual visa-exemption arrangement between the two countries.

“There are over 150 commercial flights every week connecting different cities in our countries,” he said.

The educational exchanges are burgeoning under ‘The UAE Youth Ambassadors Program’ that facilitates Emirati students’ visit to China, and China Scholarship Council’s Memorandum of Understanding with Khalifa University that brings “more and more Chinese students” to pursue their higher education in the UAE, the ambassador told WAM.

Confucius Institutes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, an ongoing initiative to teach Chinese in 200 UAE schools, and frequent visits of Chinese artist groups to the UAE have also enhanced cultural and educational relations.

“Our plan to open a Chinese Cultural Centre in the UAE is in progress,” the envoy said.

The UAE is home to the largest Chinese community in the Middle East. Most of the over 200,000-strong Chinese community in the UAE live in Dubai and Sharjah, and around 50 community organizations cater to the community members from all walks of life.

According to WAM, the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone Project, established in cooperation with Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company, JOCIC, has attracted more than 20 Chinese companies since it was officially launched last year with investments of more than AED6.2 billion.

JOCIC plays an important role in attracting more Chinese companies to set up a business in Khalifa Industrial Zone. The company is developing a 2.2 sq km manufacturing area with a potential to expand to 12.2 sq km in the future, based on a 50-year Abu Dhabi Ports Cooperation Agreement.

In the same context, the Chinese tire manufacturer Roadbot has laid the foundation stone for a new tire manufacturing facility within the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone in KIZAD with a total value of AED2.2 billion and is due to start operation in October 2020.

Abu Dhabi Ports and COSCO Shipping Ports Limited opened CSP Abu Dhabi Port Container Terminal (COSCO) in 2018, thus positioning Abu Dhabi as the regional hub for COSCO’s global network of 36 ports and further connecting the Emirate to the major trade hubs along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The deep-water, semi-automated container terminal includes the largest Container Freight Station (CFS) in the Middle East, covering 275,000 square meters. The facility offers facilities for full and partial bonded container shipments, the full range of container packing services, short-term warehousing for de-consolidated cargo as well as easy connectivity with container terminals in Khalifa Port.

The terminal is also the first international greenfield subsidiary of COSCO SHIPPING Ports, a subsidiary of China COSCO Shipping, the largest integrated shipping enterprise in the world. CSP has so far invested AED1.1 billion in capital expenditure on construction and machinery at the terminal.

The partnership with COSCO shipping Ports is part of a five-year strategy by Abu Dhabi Ports aimed at strengthening the maritime sector in Abu Dhabi and driving economic diversification, in line with Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, by increasing regional trade and attracting foreign direct investment. Abu Dhabi Ports has earmarked AED10 billion in investment that will increase capacity at Khalifa Port from the current 5 million TEU to 9.1 million TEU, which also includes boosting capacity at Terminal 1 to more than 5 million TEU.

The CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal has a design capacity of 2.5 million TEU and will begin with a handling capacity of 1.5 million TEU, with 1200 metres of quay. The water depth of the terminal is 16.5 metres, allowing it to accommodate mega-vessels typically carrying in excess of 20,000 TEU.

Abu Dhabi Ports expects the volume of Chinese companies’ investment to increase in the coming years, taking advantage of the strategic location of KIZAD, proximity to Abu Dhabi Ports and CSP Abu Dhabi Port Container Terminal (COSCO), a regional hub of the Chinese company to reach the region’s markets.

 

 

 

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