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China-Qatar cooperation benefits both countries
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Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is set to arrive in Doha on Monday for an official good-will visit to Qataraimed at boosting mutually beneficial cooperation and the friendly ties between the two nations and the two peoples.

Since the establishment of their diplomatic ties in 1988, the two countries have respected and supported each other, and their friendly relations have undergone steady development and the field of their cooperation kept expanding.

Trade between the two countries dated back to the 1950s, but only in recent years has it begun to pick up speed.

In 2007, bilateral trade volume reached 1.21 billion US dollars, up 21 percent year-on-year, of which Chinese imports total 590 million dollars and exports 620 million dollars, according to the statistics of China's Ministry of Commerce.

The Chinese and Qatari economies are highly complementary. The majority of Chinese exports to Qatar include mechanical and electrical products, textiles, and high-tech products, which meet the needs of the Gulf country which is rich in energy resources but has a limited manufacturing industry.

China and Qatar have strengthened cooperation in the energy sector. This March, Qatar, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), signed with China a memorandum on promoting bilateral energy cooperation.

China and Qatar also have increasingly close cooperation in engineering projects and the labor service sector. During the first quarter of 2008, Chinese companies signed contracts worth nearly 2 billion dollars with Qatar for undertaking engineering projects and providing labor services, according to the Economic and Commercial Counselor's Office of the Chinese Embassy in Qatar.

Investment between the two countries surged in recent years as well. By 2007, the Chinese direct investment in Qatar reached 15.48 million dollars. At the same time, Qatari investors are increasingly turning to the Chinese market for investment opportunities, especially in the fields of finance, real estate and petrochemical.

The Qatar Financial Center earlier this year approved the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China's largest state-owned commercial bank, to set up a branch in Doha, the first time a Chinese bank was allowed to establish a business outlet in the Gulf region.

ICBC's relationship with Qatar began in 2006 when the Qatar Investment Authority bought 206 million dollars worth of ICBC shares in the bank's initial public offering (IPO). The IPO was the world's largest at the time.

The two countries also made great progress in cooperation in the fields of aviation, tourism, information and culture as well.

In April, Qatar Airways, a global 5-star airline which is also the Gulf's fastest growing one, opened a direct route from Doha to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, and now has 21 flights flying to China every week.

Qatar's al-Jazeera TV station attaches great importance to cooperation with China as well. In 2003, the station opened its Beijing office. It has also signed cooperation agreements with China's Central Television (CCTV).

China and Qatar have great exchanges and communication in the field of sports as well. Qatar, which successfully hosted the 15th Asian Games, is also the first Arab country to bid for the Olympic Games to be held in its capital. It has always firmly supported China's hosting of the Olympic Games this summer in Beijing.

Qatar has always adhered to the one-China policy. It also supports China's efforts in its cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

In April, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Bin Jabir Al-thani paid an official visit to China, where he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

The Chinese and Qatari leaders pledged to take the opportunity of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties to develop bilateral strategic friendly and cooperative relations, increase political trust, boost mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of energy, aviation and investment, and increase high-level exchanges.

Chinese Ambassador to Qatar Yue Xiaoyong said China and Qatar have vast cooperation potential, and China is ready to work with Qatar to explore the potential to fully develop bilateral ties, which is in the interest of the two countries and two peoples.

(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2008)

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