Sino-Arab Belt and Road symposium opens

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The Belt and Road regional trade and infrastructure network can help the Arab world with its modernization drive, according to the 60 academics and experts from 10 Arab countries convened at a symposium in Shanghai on Tuesday.

The two-day Sino-Arab Symposium on the Belt and Road is sponsored by the Shanghai Foreign Language University and the Research Center of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum.

More and more Arab countries are seeking to end bloody conflicts and social upheaval, and focus on boosting their economies in partnership with Asian countries, said Mohamed Abdullah Youness Mohamed, a researcher at the Regional Strategic Studies Center of Egypt.

He said Egypt's two flagship projects, the New Suez Canal and plans to build a new capital city, are aimed at revitalizing the national economy, and Egypt hopes the Belt and Road can bring investment to the schemes.

China's proposals for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (popularly known as the Belt and Road) have been welcomed by Arab countries along the ancient business route known as the Silk Road.

China and the Arab world began interacting as early as 2,000 years ago. Middle-eastern merchants, riding on camels, carried jewelry and spices for sale in China, and brought back Chinese tea, porcelain and silk.

Kuwait plans to rebuild an old port town after inspiration from the Belt and Road, said Abdullah Al Yahya, vice president of Kuwait Foreign Affairs University.

Chinese companies are also involved in the building of Kuwait's national airport, he noted. Worth 5 billion U.S. dollars, the project is one of the main business partnerships between the two countries.

Trade between China and the Arab States exploded from 10 million U.S. dollars in the 1950s to 251.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, which made China the bloc's second-largest trade partner. They are aiming to increase the trade volume to 600 billion U.S. dollars in 10 years.

Ding Long, professor with China University of International Business and Economics, said the Belt and Road would help towards this target, and pointed to Chinese investment in agriculture in Egypt and Sudan. Endi

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