The 7th ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) held in Doha on Thursday paves the way for further economic and political cooperation between China and the Arab world, said Arab experts.
China and the Arab world enjoy vast economic partnerships, mutual political and diplomatic support and strong relations based on respect, friendship and shared interests, according to many analysts.
The China-Arab Cooperation Forum was described by Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby as "a good example for the South-to-South cooperation," stressing the Arab nations are "sincere and confident in our strategic cooperation."
BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Doha that the Belt and Road Initiative is "a historic opportunity" for China and the Arab nations to boost common development and national rejuvenation, expecting "huge potentials" for future Chinese-Arab cooperation in infrastructure projects.
During the one-day meeting, held under the theme of "Working together on the Belt and Road Initiative and deepening China-Arab strategic cooperation," the two sides agreed to take the initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping as the lodestar to promote their relations.
The initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was announced by President Xi in 2013, with the aim to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road.
"This initiative may form a cooperation framework between the Chinese and the Arab sides, and transport can be one of the fields of cooperation," said Gamal Bayoumi, head of the Arab Investors Union, noting the ancient Silk Road crossed some Arab states, including Egypt.
"The revival of the Silk Road is important; the more it reduces the cost and time for transport of goods, the higher their competitiveness in the markets will be," the top Arab investment expert told Xinhua.
He stressed that the regularly-held China-Arab forum is a "good habit" that enhances ties between the two sides and provides potentials for raising the level of cooperation to presidential levels.
"Arabs should learn how China became the largest world exporter and how it attracted the largest amounts of foreign investments," Bayoumi told Xinhua.
Omar al-Hassan, head of the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies, stressed that China has "real huge partnerships" with Arabs in general and the Gulf states in particular.
"The Belt and Road initiative is very important as it may open new horizons for China-Arab economic cooperation that reflects on political cooperation and coordination between the two sides," the Gulf expert told Xinhua.
Hassan believes that any further step in the Chinese-Arab economic cooperation will enhance partnership between the two sides, and will in turn reflect on their political cooperation. "Arab states look at China and turn to it as an important partner," he added.
For his part, Ahmed Wali, vice chairman of Egypt-China Friendship Association, said that the initiative will open a new window for larger economic cooperation between China and the Arab world.
"The initiative is very significant for the Arabs and China alike, and every country the road passes through will benefit in many ways, mainly in the commercial and the cultural fields," " Wali told Xinhua, noting that the revival of such a key ancient commercial road will lead to further cultural interaction and exchange between China and the Arab nations.
Many experts believe the China-Arab Cooperation Forum manifests longstanding strategic cooperation between the two sides as China is a main friend and supporter of Arab nations while the Arabs look at the Asian giant with a different perception compared to the West in general.
During the ministerial meeting, the chief of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, described China's relations with the Arab countries are "ideal," and said that the Arab world should "attach even more importance to the strategic cooperation between the two sides."
Araby added that "China is the only major state in the world that always supports Arab rights," hailing the strategic cooperation between the two sides and the Chinese "great influence" on the balance of international relations.
Diaa al-Fiqy, chief of Chinese-Egyptian Chamber of Commerce, referred to China as 'an honest and trusted partner that respects the sovereignty of its friends and never intervenes in other countries' affairs."
He added that China adopts a smart diplomacy as its attitudes are based on strategic thinking and never builds its diplomatic relationships on the action-reaction strategy, which is why China is regionally and internationally respected.
China has huge projects in the Middle East region, Africa and the Arab world, which encourages the Arab nations to enhance strategic ties with the Asian power and benefit from its development expertise.
"Arab cooperation with China should not be restricted to economy, but it should also be military, political and cultural. I believe the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum can achieve this," Fiqy told Xinhua.
"China has many development experiences the Arabs should learn from, as they paid dearly for following the terrible Western capitalism," Fiqy said, urging Arabs to take China as a successful development example "for the country is moving with stable swift pace towards a comprehensive development."
Wali, the vice chairman of Egypt-China Friendship Association, said that the Arab world should benefit from its strategic cooperation with China.
"The Arabs can learn from the Chinese development experience in the fields of education, banking, business and culture. They can shorten the time to reach high development levels by following on the footsteps of China," he told Xinhua, adding, "I believe many Arabs have already started to follow the Chinese development model."
"Promoting ties with many Arab countries to the level of strategic partnership is a proof of China's deeply-rooted friendship with the Arab world that views China as a successful model for a modern, strong, rich state," Wali said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang told the forum Thursday that the Chinese and Arab sides realized the necessity of their firm mutual support for maintaining their respective core interests and easing regional tensions through dialogues.
"Politically, China is a peaceful country whose policies are based on dialogue not confrontation and has always been a backer of Arab rights for the past five decades without interference in the domestic affairs of any Arab countries," said Diaa al-Fiqy.
He added that China's role in the region is completely different from that of Western countries and the United States, which always work to divide the Arab region for personal interests and selfish policies.
Hassan, head of the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies, said that the Arabs try to get closer to China as a strong partner amid rising regional instability.
"China undoubtedly has a great role that it can play in the Arab region in support of the settlement of some issues including the turmoil in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and others," Hassan told Xinhua.