(East-West Question) Ali Zahiri: Why does the UAE say to be China's best partner?

  China News Agency, Beijing, February 19th, Question: Why does the UAE say to be China's best partner?

  ——Interview with Ali Zahiri, UAE Ambassador to China

  China News Agency reporter Xiao Xin

  In recent years, the UAE and China have had close exchanges, deepened political mutual trust, and bilateral cooperation in various fields has been quite bright.

As comprehensive strategic partners, China and Afghanistan share similar development paths, development concepts, and development goals, and jointly provide useful lessons for developing countries to find an independent modernization development path.

  Ali al-Zahiri, UAE Ambassador to China, recently accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency's "East-West Question". From the perspective of mutual learning of civilization, he discussed how to find a balance and win-win point in cross-cultural exchanges and multi-field cooperation between UAE and China; from the perspective of win-win cooperation From the perspective of the development vision, we will look forward to how the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries will continue to inject vitality into the UAE’s strategic vision for the next 50 years and serve the people of the two countries. A shared desire for development leads to well-being.

In 2019, a reception to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE was held in Beijing. The reception venue displayed photos of Chinese landscapes taken by UAE photographers.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Hou Yu

The following is a summary of the interview transcript:

China News Service: In recent years, China and Afghanistan have maintained close high-level exchanges and deepened political mutual trust. Bilateral cooperation in various fields has been called "a model of global cooperation in the 21st century".

In 2012, the UAE became the first Gulf Arab country to establish a strategic partnership with China.

In 2018, the two countries established a comprehensive strategic partnership.

In 2019, during his high-profile visit to China, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, UAE said that the UAE side is optimistic about the bright prospects of China's development, and will deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the UAE and China as a priority of UAE diplomacy. Most importantly, no matter how the international situation changes, Afghanistan will be China's best strategic partner.

Why does the UAE value China as a friend?

Ali Zahiri:

I think the UAE values ​​China as a friend for the following reasons: First, the closeness between the two peoples.

The Chinese nation and the Arab nation are two ancient and great nations in the world, both of which have made great contributions to the development and progress of human history.

We all have great respect for each other's great achievements in history.

  The second is that the two countries support each other in relation to each other's major interests and core concerns.

In modern history, the Chinese nation and the Arab nation also had the same experience and destiny.

China has given unswerving support to the just struggle of the Arab nation.

The UAE and China develop bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect and mutual understanding.

The UAE is committed to maintaining regional prosperity and stability, while China is also playing an increasingly important role in international affairs. The two countries share the same vision for the future development of the world and all mankind.

  Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and China 38 years ago, the exchanges between the two countries in many fields such as politics, economy, culture, science and technology have achieved major achievements and breakthroughs.

At present, the UAE is committed to transforming from an oil-based economy to a knowledge-based innovation economy. China has world-leading technologies in new energy, infrastructure, life sciences, artificial intelligence and other fields.

This is also an important factor in the UAE's emphasis on developing friendly relations with China.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE in 2021, the UAE launched the "National Development Strategy for the Next 50 Years" and the "300 Billion Action" 10-year comprehensive industrial strategic plan, striving to build the UAE into a world-class industrial country.

These goals of the UAE have many things in common with China's "14th Five-Year Plan", and these common goals will bring rich cooperation opportunities between the two countries.

  Common goals and shared visions make the UAE attach great importance to China as a friend.

In 2015, at the 22nd Beijing International Book Fair, guests from the UAE, the guest country of honor, interacted with the audience.

Photo by Zhang Hao issued by China News Agency

China News Service: Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out during his visit to the UAE in 2018 that although China and UAE are far apart and have vastly different national conditions, they both have people with great spirit of struggle, creativity and pursuit of dreams.

President Zayed, the "father of the nation" of the UAE, also said that it is not only oil that brings progress to the country, but also the efforts of the people.

How can Afghanistan and China find a balance and win-win point for mutual learning in the context of different cultures, systems and national conditions?

What are the similar cultural concepts and spiritual cores under the differences?

Ali Zahiri:

The people of Afghanistan and China are both hard-working and intelligent people.

Through unremitting efforts, our two peoples have transformed our country from a poor and backward country into a country that is strong, prosperous, and has significant regional and global influence today.

The UAE is a country built on the core values ​​of tolerance, equality, generosity and innovation, which have many similarities with China's ideas since ancient times, such as inclusiveness, integrity and innovation.

  As representatives of the two major civilizations in the world, the UAE and China are actively promoting the peaceful coexistence of all countries in the world.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel in 2020 to normalize relations reflects the UAE's firm attitude to safeguard human values, coexistence and unity on the basis of tolerance.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China, while firmly following the path of peaceful development, spares no effort to promote regional and world peace and stability.

On the Middle East issue, China's principle is to promote regional peace and stability, promote the development of countries in the region, and safeguard the interests of the people in the region.

  Both the UAE and China are open and free economies with strong complementarity in economic and trade fields.

At present, China is the UAE's largest trading partner, and the UAE is China's second largest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa.

The UAE is willing to work with China to promote the continuous deepening of economic and trade cooperation and strive to achieve the goal of bilateral trade reaching US$200 billion by 2030.

  Therefore, equality and mutual trust in politics, mutual benefit and win-win in economy and trade, and mutual radiance and radiance in history and culture are all win-win points and balance points between our two countries.

In 2019, at the 9th China-ASEAN (Liuzhou) Automobile Industry Expo, a visitor from the United Arab Emirates used a mobile phone to photograph the interior of the participating car.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Yizhao

China News Service: The joint construction of the "Belt and Road" is a highlight of cooperation between China and Afghanistan in recent years.

The UAE is one of the first Arab countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative.

From the ancient Silk Road to the "Belt and Road" initiative, why does the Arab world value economic and trade exchanges and mutual learning of civilizations with the East?

In the process of jointly building the "Belt and Road", how has the partnership between the UAE and China been consolidated and deepened?

Ali Zahiri:

Arab countries have maintained good trade relations with China since ancient times.

The "Silk Road" opened two thousand years ago, as a bridge between the Arab world and China, closely linked China and Arab countries at the east and west ends of Asia.

In the 7th century AD, the two sides opened up the "Maritime Silk Road". Chinese silk and porcelain were sold to the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa, and Europe. Arabian spices and pearls also boarded ships to China through the Indian Ocean.

Our ancestors communicated with each other through the ancient Silk Road.

  China is an ancient civilization and has made brilliant achievements in history.

Since modern times, China has encountered many turbulence. However, since the founding of the People's Republic of China more than 70 years ago, China has achieved many development milestones and is now the world's second largest economy.

As China's comprehensive strategic partner, the UAE is proud of China's success and is happy to see China achieve greater achievements.

Because China's development not only benefits its own country, but also a huge opportunity for the UAE.

  The UAE is one of the first countries to join the joint construction of the "Belt and Road". It actively responds to and participates in the construction of the "Belt and Road", and maintains a good trade and business partnership with China. It is also one of the factors for the UAE's outstanding progress in recent years.

The China-Arab production capacity cooperation demonstration zone is located in the Khalifa Industrial Zone, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Photo courtesy of the interviewee

  The close trade and commercial relations have further promoted closer cooperation and exchanges between the two countries in many fields such as politics, culture, science and technology, and deepened the friendship between the two peoples.

  During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was deeply impressed by the mutual help between the two countries.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, UAE, Mohammed expressed his support for China's anti-epidemic efforts; the UAE government and people have provided medical supplies to China many times; UAE landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, also lit up to cheer Wuhan and China come on.

In November 2020, several government officials, including the Vice President of the UAE, took the lead in vaccinating the Chinese vaccine. In December 2020, the UAE became the first country to approve the listing of the Chinese vaccine.

In the first half of 2021, a joint project between UAE 42 Group and China National Pharmaceutical Group launched the UAE's first new crown vaccine production line.

This is the first 'Made in the UAE' Covid-19 vaccine and it drives the UAE's 'leading vaccination programme' in 205 medical centres across the country.

On December 27, 2021, the UAE Ministry of Health approved the emergency use of Sinopharm's new recombinant protein vaccine.

This is another vote of confidence cast by the UAE on Chinese vaccines.

  I think the relationship between the UAE and China is a model of state-to-state cooperation.

In February 2020, when Wuhan was hit by the new crown pneumonia, the Burj Khalifa, a well-known landmark in the United Arab Emirates and the world's tallest building, lit up to cheer for Wuhan and China.

Photo courtesy of the interviewee

China News Service: On the occasion of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates, the UAE put forward a development vision for the "next 50 years".

What role will the all-round and multi-field cooperation with China, including the joint construction of the "Belt and Road", play in realizing the UAE's development vision?

Ali al-Zahiri:

UAE's 'Centennial National Strategy 2071' for the next 50 years.

Building on this, we will work to build a "good governance" that emphasizes technological innovation and educational quality, building the UAE into one of the best economies in the world and a happy and cohesive society.

  China is not only the UAE's largest trading partner, but the two countries have also accumulated long-term close cooperation in the field of science and technology.

I believe that in the future, the two countries can inject impetus into development in the fields of scientific research, technology and innovation.

On King Abdulaziz Street in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, the national flags of China and Afghanistan are fluttering in the wind.

Photo courtesy of the interviewee

  For example, the UAE and China share similar ambitions in space exploration.

The UAE is the first Arab country to implement a space program.

China's achievements in the field of spaceflight are remarkable, especially the recent successful exit of Chinese astronauts, which shows China's increasingly mature technology in the field of manned spaceflight.

I think the two countries will have extensive space for cooperation in the space field in the future.

For another example, the UAE has partnered with Huawei to become the first Arab country to deploy a 5G network.

Our goal is to achieve 100% coverage of 5G by 2025.

We can also work together to tackle more global challenges, such as climate change, desertification control, and environmental protection.

  Looking forward to the next 50 years, the UAE is willing to work with China to deepen cooperation in various fields within the framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

We are willing to take the joint construction of the "Belt and Road" as the core platform to make greater contributions to promoting common prosperity.

Let the people of our two countries join hands to create a better future.


Interviewee Profile:

  Ali al-Zahiri, UAE Ambassador to China, took up his post in Beijing in October 2017.

Previously, he worked for Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, UAE National Gas Transportation Co., Ltd., etc. In October 2009, he was appointed as the director of the United Arab Emirates in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and in 2014, he served as the chairman of the OPEC Council.

Zahiri received an honorary doctorate degree in law of the sea from the University of Tasmania, Australia; a master degree in business administration from Southeast University in the United States; and a bachelor degree in economics and political science from the University of Southern Indiana, United States.