Middle East looks to China for development, opportunities

2016-01-20 06:00:07 GMT2016-01-20 14:00:07(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Xinhua writer Xu Ke

BEIJING, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- For far too long, some Middle East countries have been persistently haunted by turbulence and bloodshed -- civil wars in Syria and Yemen, the fight against the Islamic State (IS), and the great exodus of refugees.

Middle East countries, which are currently undergoing reform and change, urgently need guaranteed political stability and dynamic economic growth.

Experts believe that as a main driver of the world economy with its robust growth, China could share some successful development experience and provide real opportunities for win-win cooperation with its partners in the Middle East.


Chinese achievements and the fruits of cooperation with the Middle East could provide local people with another choice, with benefits and a promising future, said Liu Baolai, former Chinese Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

The past decades have witnessed China's robust economic growth, attracting the attention of the Middle East countries, mostly developing nations sharing similar development pursuits and tasks with Beijing.

Ihab al-Desoky, head of the economic department at Sadat Academy in Egypt, said China, with its stable economic policy and rapid growth, has created an excellent model by using its huge population as power for development rather than a source for pressure.

Xue Qingguo, head of the Arab school of the Beijing Foreign Studies University, suggested three things that Middle East countries could learn from China: first, explore a development path that suits the domestic situation of each individual country; second, settle relations properly using stability, reform and development as guidelines; and third, overcome divergences for the greater good of the countries and their peoples.

"The Middle East is in bad need of cooperation on infrastructure construction and capacity building, which China stands ready to provide. Meanwhile, the region's energy and market could also drive Beijing's economic growth," Xue said.

The huge market and capital, high-quality talent training mechanism and mature systems of attracting foreign investment have proved that China can definitely benefit its partners of cooperation, said Liu.

"The boundless potential in industry, energy, project contracting, technology and tourism show the Middle East in bad need of cooperation with China," he said.

Yao Kuangyi, former Chinese Ambassador to Turkey, shared similar views with Liu. He stressed China had established cooperation in production capacity with the Middle East countries years ago, which has built a solid foundation for future development.

"China and Sudan launched cooperation projects on oil exploitation as early as 1995, which created more than 80,000 job opportunities for local people," he said.

China-Sudan oil development projects, he said, have set a good example of sincere cooperation characterized by mutual benefit, paving the way for production capacity cooperation with other Middle East countries.


Chinese President Xi Jinping's first overseas visit in 2016 takes him to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran, showing the strategic significance that Beijing attaches to the region.

During Xi's highly anticipated trip, which is the first one by a top Chinese leader in more than five years since the start of the region's turmoil, China's proposed "Belt and Road" initiative will be the subject of discussion.

Khald Abdle Khaliq, expert with Egypt's Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, is among many who believed Xi's visit could result in some agreements for the implementation of the development strategy.

Referring to the "Belt and Road" initiative, he said it was warmly welcomed by the Middle East countries and that Saudi Arabia and Egypt had expressed their willingness to restructure their ports and roads in order to join that huge project.

Furthermore, the initiative could solve the chronic problem of high unemployment by providing numerous job opportunities in the region, creating a strong base for China-Arab cooperation and thus paving the way for boosting the already strong mutual ties and cooperation, he said.

Yao agreed with the idea that Xi's trip will further boost the "Belt and Road" initiative, saying that "infrastructure construction, high-end manufacturing, labor-intensive industries and the financial sector are four major aspects where the two sides are carrying out open and equal cooperation."

The main projects involve high-speed rails, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, satellites, nuclear power, new energies, and the Silk Road Fund, he added.

However, the turmoil in the region has worsened in the past year, with the direct and indirect aftermath spreading to a growing number of countries. Many doubted whether the region can provide a secure environment for bilateral cooperation.

Zhu Weilie, a Middle East expert with the Shanghai International Studies University, called on the region to reduce security risks and come up with a long-term political settlement so as to end the conflicts and wars as soon as possible.

His suggestion is in line with China's just-published Arab Policy Paper, issued ahead of Xi's Mideast tour, which reiterates Beijing's commitment to boosting peace and stability in the region and its political solution to regional hotspot issues. (Xinhua reporters Zhong Ya, Zhang Xu and Deng Xianlai in Beijing, Liu Chang and Ma Yan in Cairo, Egypt, also contributed to the story.)

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