China pledges $55b Mideast aid

2016-01-23 02:14:35 GMT2016-01-23 10:14:35(Beijing Time)  Global Times

Xi visit wraps up with Iran trip

China has pledged up to $55 billion worth of financial and humanitarian assistance to the instability-stricken Arab world, as visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to wrap up his first trip to the Middle East on Saturday.

The fruitful trip, which has produced multiple cooperative deals, suggest China's pragmatic diplomatic moves as a world power to promote regional peace and development, analysts said.

In his speech delivered on Thursday at the Arab League headquarters based in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, Xi unveiled a host of moves including a $15 billion exclusive loan, a $10 billion business loan, and $10 billion in concessional loans so as to facilitate industrial cooperation between China and regional countries, as the country works to promote industrialization in the Middle East.

China also decided to pledge 50 million yuan ($7.53 million) to help improve the lives of Palestinians and 230 million yuan for Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen in humanitarian assistance,

Meanwhile, China is preparing to work with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to set up a common investment fund worth $20 billion that focuses on traditional sources of energy in the Middle East, infrastructure, and high-end manufacturing.

Xi also offered in his speech $300 million for law enforcement cooperation and police training so as to help build up the abilities of the regional countries to maintain stability.

"The key to overcoming difficulties is to accelerate development," Xi said, stressing that turmoil in the Middle East stems from the lack of development, and the ultimate solution will depend on development.

Xi also said in his speech that China's Middle East policies are oriented toward reality and local residents' needs. He stressed that China does not seek agents in the region or attempt to fill a power "void," but to promote peace talks and to invite countries to join the mutually beneficial partnership network under the "Belt and Road" initiative.

China supports the Arab world solving problems on its own through development and dialogue, Xi said, adding that the process of dialogue might be long but will yield the most sustainable results.

"The international community should respect the will and role of those directly involved, the neighboring countries and regional organizations, instead of imposing a solution from the outside," Xi said.

The new and specific elaboration on diplomatic policy has stressed China's stance in not involving in regional conflicts, while the assistance could help boost economic development in the Middle East, according to analysts.

Development and stability are two key topics in the Middle East. Young Arabs need to live with dignity to reduce the possibilities of falling into extremism, Li Guofu, director of Middle East studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday.

"There is hope in the Middle East, and all parties should look for it by pursuing dialogue and development," Xi said.

"China is making clear of its stance in the region as it has learned the lesson from other major powers - that is we only seek win-win cooperation with no other agenda," Li Weijian, an expert at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday.

"However, China can only offer one perspective on Middle East issues, which require more international cooperation," he said.

China has been promoting cooperation with the Middle East countries through pragmatic projects, which will in turn help enhance China's influence in the region, he said, adding that the specific cooperation projects along the "Belt and Road" initiative can help Middle East countries better understand the infrastructure-oriented proposal.

Visit to Iran

Xi kicked off his visit to Iran on Friday evening local time, where the visiting president is scheduled to meet with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, China National Radio reported.

Similar to the visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt that started on Tuesday, energy cooperation is highly anticipated by analysts and expectations also ran high for China to lift bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Iran has been seeking opportunities in many fields after sanctions were lifted, especially in financial investment. This has offered chances for Chinese companies which should also be warned of financial risks, Yin Gang, a Middle East expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

"China has always valued ties with Iran. The State visit may mark a high-level return visit from China and a comprehensive strategic partnership can be expected, which could show China's balanced foreign policy," Yin said.


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