Roundup: China, Saudi Arabia eye new level of friendship as diplomatic ties hit 30-year mark

Source: Xinhua| 2020-07-22 23:43:48|Editor: huaxia

by Xinhua writer Tu Yifan

RIYADH, July 22 (Xinhua) -- As this year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Saudi Arabia, the two countries are ready to make more achievements through close cooperation.

On July 21, 1990, the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Saudi Arabia opened a new chapter in their bilateral ties. Since then, the two countries have shown mutual understanding and support on issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns, and have worked closely on multilateral occasions such as the United Nations and the Group of Twenty (G20).

Leaders of both China and Saudi Arabia have paid frequent bilateral visits, constantly enhancing mutual political trust and deepening the friendship and mutual understanding of the two nations.

The establishment of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership and the founding of the China-Saudi Arabia High-level Joint Committee in 2016 marked a particular milestone for the development of bilateral relations, Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing said.

Zhu Weilie, director of the Committee of Experts of the China-Arab Research Center on Reform and Development, stressed the strategic importance of China-Saudi Arabia relations, noting that they are based on mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, mutually-beneficial cooperation and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

What's more, according to statistics provided by the Chinese embassy, bilateral trade volume between the two countries has grown more than 150-fold in about 30 years, from less than 500 million U.S. dollars in 1990 to 78.18 billion dollars in 2019.

China is Saudi Arabia's largest trading partner and Saudi Arabia is China's largest trading partner in West Asia. Majid Al Otaiba, member of the Saudi-Chinese Business Council, said the two countries' economic and commercial cooperation has witnessed significant growth over the years, resulting in astounding success in bilateral trade.

In January 2016, the Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Company was officially put into operation, marking Chinese oil refiner Sinopec's first overseas refining and chemical project, as well as China's largest investment project in Saudi Arabia.

The Mecca Light Rail undertaken by China Railway Construction is the first light rail in Saudi Arabia and the first of its kind built by a Chinese company in the Middle East.

The Jizan Economic City -- the construction of which many Chinese companies are participating in -- is set to become a new driving force for the economic development of Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast in the future.

In recent years, people-to-people exchanges between China and Saudi Arabia have also been increasing, with the two sides actively carrying out exchanges and cooperation in such areas as language and culture, art and civilizations, and heritage protection.

Since the introduction of the Chinese language to the Saudi curriculum in 2019 when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud visited China, the education authorities of the two countries have kept close communication, Chen said.

Yahya bin Junaid, head of the Saudi think tank Center for Research and Intercommunication Knowledge (CRIK), said that since the Chinese language was added to the Saudi curriculum, bilateral cultural cooperation has moved to a higher level.

Moreover, facing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the two countries have shown brotherhood by supporting and helping each other.

At the most critical moments during China's COVID-19 battle, the Saudi government and companies provided emergency supplies to China; and when Saudi Arabia was hit by the epidemic, the Chinese government sent medical experts to the kingdom, while Chinese companies helped boost the country's COVID-19 testing capacity.

Haitham Al-Sayed, a researcher at the CRIK, praised the cooperation between the two countries in fighting the coronavirus and their shared views on giving priority to the safety of their people, calling for global cooperation and the effectiveness in taking decisions to promote precautionary measures.

Chen, the Chinese ambassador, expressed his appreciation for Saudi Arabia's active role in international affairs as the rotating presidency of G20 and for hosting the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit to coordinate international anti-epidemic cooperation and stabilize the global economy.

"In the face of profound changes in the world's political and economic landscape, China is ready to work with Saudi Arabia to make greater contributions to regional and world peace, stability, development and prosperity, so as to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind," Chen said. Enditem