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Deepen All-round Cooperation for Common Development

Keynote Speech by H.E. Wen Jiabao
Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
At the Opening Session of the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the
China-Arab States Cooperation Forum

Tianjin, 13 May 2010

Your Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar,

Your Excellencies Ministers, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and Diplomatic Envoys,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

During my visit to Egypt half a year ago, I was invited to speak at the headquarters of the League of Arab States. Memories of the friendship from the Arab people are still fresh on my mind. Today, in the same spirit of brotherhood, we, as the host, warmly welcome our Arab friends to China for the Fourth Ministerial Conference of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF). We are gathered together to explore ways to advance China-Arab relations and officially establish the China-Arab strategic relationship of all-round cooperation and common development. I want to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government, warm congratulations on the opening of the conference, and I wish the conference full success.

The establishment of CASCF was a strategic choice China and Arab countries made in the interest of the long-term development of our relations in the 21st century. It was also a major step in strengthening collective dialogue and cooperation between China and other developing countries. Since its inception six years ago, the Forum has made continuous progress in institutional improvement and played an increasingly important role in guiding China-Arab relations. Each year, the Forum has organized events and activities that are diverse in form and rich in content. They have received close attention and won the acclaim from the governments and people of the two sides, as they have pushed forward the all-round exchanges and cooperation between China and the Arab world. Past progress shows that the establishment of CASCF has lent a strong boost to the growth of our relations and cooperation in various areas.

Mutual political trust has been further strengthened. Recent years have witnessed frequent high-level mutual visits and deepening mutual understanding. China has given even firmer support to the efforts of Arab countries in exploring development paths suited to their own realities, and played a more active role in promoting the Middle East peace process and the just cause of Arab countries to restore their legitimate national rights. Arab countries have given China vigorous support on issues related to Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, issues that concern China's core interests, and provided selfless assistance to the Chinese people in the wake of the Wenchuan and Yushu earthquakes and other natural disasters. The hearts of the great Chinese and Arab people are more than ever closely linked to each other.

Economic and trade ties have grown stronger. We have held the China-Arab Business Conference and Investment Seminar and the China-Arab Energy Cooperation Conference several times, contributing to the tremendous expansion of our business ties. Within just a few years after the establishment of CASCF, China-Arab trade rose from US$36.4 billion in 2004 to US$107.4 billion in 2009, cumulative two-way direct investment grew from US$1.1 billion to US$5.5 billion, and total business turnover of project contracting increased from US$13.5 billion to US$70 billion. The fact that our economic cooperation and trade have continued to grow in spite of the severe international financial crisis fully demonstrates that our economies are highly complementary and hold broad prospects for development.

People-to-people and cultural exchanges have become more dynamic. We have held the China-Arab Seminar on Dialogue Between Civilizations, the China-Arab Friendship Conference and the China-Arab News Media Cooperation Forum on a regular basis. We have hosted Chinese and Arab cultural festivals. The China Central Television has opened a channel in Arabic. All this has significantly increased the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and Arab people. Confucius Institutes have been established in more and more Arab countries, opening a window to traditional Chinese culture and China's modernization drive for the Arab people, the younger generation in particular.

While the CASCF has been around for only six years, the friendly relations between the People's Republic of China and Arab countries have entered their sixth decade. The past half century and more have been truly eventful. Both the Chinese and Arab people have fought long and hard for national independence and state sovereignty. We both have experienced twists and turns in exploring the development path and achieving national rejuvenation. And we have together travelled a long way in promoting the establishment of a just and equitable new international political and economic order. Standing by each other through thick and thin, the Chinese and Arab people have forged a strong bond of friendship, deepened mutual understanding and created a shared legacy. The history of China-Arab relations tells us that only by respecting and treating each other as equals can we maintain the sound development of our political relations; only by learning from each other with an inclusive approach can we push forward the harmonious development of Chinese and Arab civilizations; and only by engaging in sincere and mutually beneficial cooperation can we achieve the common development of our economies. This is the experience that we have gained from our own practice. It is therefore all the more valuable, and we should hold it dear to our heart and remember it forever.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past two years, the world has experienced the severe impact and serious test of the international financial crisis. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the international community, we are seeing a slow recovery of the world economy, but the foundation of the recovery is not yet solid. Sovereign debt crises in some countries are deepening, the unemployment rate remains high in some major economies, prices of bulk commodities on the international markets fluctuate in a high range, and trade protectionism has visibly resurged. We should never underestimate the gravity and complexity of this crisis and its far-reaching impact on the world political and economic landscape. We should remain sober-minded, observe and handle the evolving situation with calm and support each other to remove the obstacles that impede sustainable world economic recovery. We should recognize that as a result of this once-in-a-century financial crisis, the world political and economic landscape is undergoing major adjustments and transformation. Profound changes are taking place in the international balance of power and in-depth adjustments in relations between major countries are in the making. The international governance system is about to go through a far-reaching reform, and the world economic structure will experience significant transition. Change brings hope and opportunities come along with challenges. At this critical moment when our world faces a historic transition, all political leaders with vision should judge the situation from a long-term perspective and with the big picture in mind, and embrace full cooperation to move forward the wheel of human peace, development and progress.

- We should work actively to foster a peaceful and stable international environment, and lay a solid political foundation for the full and stable recovery of the world economy. The Chinese people have learned from their own experience that development would not be possible without a peaceful and stable environment. The international community should strongly promote the idea that peace is most valuable, and continue to advocate the spirit of sticking together in times of adversity and overcoming difficulties through joint action. It is important to observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and oppose gross violation of sovereignty and interference in other's internal affairs. International and regional disputes should be resolved through peaceful means and the willful use or threat of force should be rejected. It is important to enhance dialogue and exchanges between civilizations, increase mutual understanding and tolerance, oppose all forms of terrorism, extremist forces and violent activities, and oppose linking terrorism with any particular ethnic group or religion. We should promote multilateralism and democracy in international relations, and we should not allow international affairs to be monopolized by a few countries. The Chinese government sincerely hopes that relevant regions and countries in the throes of conflict will resolve disputes through friendly consultations at an early date, put an end to turmoil and warfare, and embark on the path of national rejuvenation and gaining strength through unity.

- We should advance the reform of the international economic and financial systems, and expedite the building of a just and equitable new international economic and financial order. Hard lessons should be learned from the international financial crisis. The international community should identify the root causes of the crisis, deal with them through right measures and strengthen governance at source. Efforts should be made in exploring ways to build a more effective world economic governance structure that will facilitate broader participation and fully accommodate the interests and concerns of all parties. We should firmly push forward the reform of the international financial system, improve the decision-making process and mechanism of international financial institutions and strengthen international cooperation in financial supervision and regulation. We must unequivocally oppose protectionism in all its forms, resolutely promote and support free trade, and ensure that the Doha Round negotiations will produce more reasonable and balanced outcomes at an early date. The prerequisite and basis for any country to undertake greater international responsibilities is for that country to first properly handle its own economic problems. The major economies should take credible steps to change their development pattern of low savings and high consumption, strengthen financial supervision and regulation, and curb excessive speculation. China will unswervingly pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up and take boosting domestic demand as its long-term strategy. We will continue to follow the policy of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, engage in various forms of international economic cooperation and exchanges, and play a constructive role in the international economic system.

- We should speed up efforts to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals and narrow the gap between the North and the South. The most fundamental imbalance in the world economy is the imbalance of development. Developing countries have been hit the hardest by the financial crisis and they face the greatest difficulties in overcoming the adverse impact of the crisis. Should developing countries remain in poverty, world peace and development will be seriously endangered. The international community should give more attention and care to the poverty-stricken areas and poor people, and help developing countries maintain financial stability and economic growth with concrete actions. To achieve this, it is particularly important that developed countries fulfill their due obligations. The international community should respect and support developing countries in pursuing a path of development suited to their own national conditions and in exploring a pattern of development conducive to their development and poverty eradication. China will continue to provide, to the best of its ability, selfless assistance to other developing countries, with no strings attached. China made a six-point commitment to the world at the UN High-level Meeting on Millennium Development Goals. China will honor its word with real action. We will not fail the expectations of the developing countries.

- We should safeguard energy security, actively meet the climate challenge, and promote sustainable world economic growth. Drastic fluctuations in the international energy prices have a direct impact on the stability and prosperity of the world economy. The international community should foster a new energy security concept featuring mutually beneficial cooperation, diverse development and common energy security through coordination. The right of relevant countries to boost national development through energy and resource utilization should be respected. It is necessary to enhance dialogue and communication between energy exporting and consuming countries, intensify international energy policy consultation and coordination, and meet the normal energy demands of countries for development purposes. It is also important to deepen cooperation in energy development, encourage investment in the energy sector, maintain a basic balance between energy supply and demand, and keep international energy prices at a reasonable level. We should work together to uphold stability in energy producing countries, curb excessive market speculation and maintain the normal order of the international energy market. To meet the global climate challenge, we should promote the research, development and diffusion of advanced energy technologies, encourage all countries to raise energy-saving capacities and energy efficiency, and vigorously develop clean and renewable energy sources. The international community should abide by the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities", consolidate and build on the important consensus shown in the Copenhagen Accord on the basis of adhering to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Roadmap, and push forward the historical process of tackling climate change. China will work even harder to conserve energy, and make unremitting efforts to meet the target of cutting CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% from the 2005 level by 2020, thus making our positive contribution to safeguarding world energy security and tackling climate change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Having gone through momentous changes, China and Arab countries now stand at a new historical starting point. Both the Chinese people and the Arab people had a glorious past, and we will, with unrelenting efforts, earn new glory and dignity. Amidst the profound transformations in the international landscape, China and the Arab world share growing consensus and common interests, and we increasingly count on each other. To upgrade China-Arab relations across the board serves the fundamental interests of people of both sides as well as world peace and development. China will work with the Arab countries for continuous advancement of our relations on behalf of peace, development and cooperation.

We should take strong measures to enhance strategic coordination. We should carry out closer high-level exchanges and strategic consultation, share our governance and development experiences and increase mutual political trust. We should support each other on issues concerning our respective core interests, cooperate with each other on major international and regional affairs and jointly respond to major global issues. China reaffirms its continued support for the Arab Peace Initiative and is ready to work with the Arab countries and other members of the international community for a comprehensive, just and reasonable solution to the Middle East issue at an early date.

We should expand economic and trade cooperation in an all-round way. The two sides should actively expand the scale of trade and make it better regulated and structured. China will pursue trade in oil, natural gas and related products with Arab countries on a stable basis, import more non-oil products from the Arab side, and export to the Arab side more mechanical and electrical products and high-tech products with higher added value. China will continue to encourage competitive Chinese enterprises to invest and start businesses in Arab countries and contribute to local economic development, and we also welcome more Arab enterprises to China. China will advance infrastructure development cooperation with the Arab side, support enterprises of the two sides to engage in power generation, railway and highway projects, and deepen cooperation both upstream and downstream in oil and gas sectors. China will also support expanded cooperation in the financial field and stronger cooperation and dialogue in environmental protection and desertification control.

We should promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation. As an Arab proverb says, "A fig tree, looking on a fig tree, becometh fruitful". We stand for more dialogue, exchanges and mutual learning between the Chinese civilization and the Arab and Islamic civilizations, for this will make our respective cultures richer and more prosperous. China welcomes the holding of exhibitions, art performances, and Cultural Day/Week events between the two sides. We will work with the Arab side to ensure the success of the second Arab Art Festival in Beijing and Shanghai later this year. We encourage more student exchange between the two sides, and we will promote the teaching of the Arabic language in China and increase the number of universities with an Arabic language curriculum. China will train 1,000 professionals of various fields for the Arab side annually in the next three years. We support the businesses of the two sides in launching tourism investment projects, and welcome applications from the Arab countries for approved destination status for Chinese tourists. The two sides should also encourage translation and publication of the fine literary works of each side. Through all these activities, China-Arab friendship will take deeper root in our people's hearts and be passed on from generation to generation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

More than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Silk Road served as a bond of friendship between the Chinese and Arab people, and brought peace and prosperity to China and the Arab world. Today, following the footsteps of history and looking ahead to the future, let us work together to answer the call of the times and move forward along the bright path towards lasting peace and prosperity.

Thank you.

 

 

 


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