Speech by Qian Xiaoqian on the Forum of China-Arab Cooperation in Media
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
I extend a warm welcome to all of you on behalf of the State Council Information Office of China.
The friendship between China and Arabic countries has a very long history. More than 2,100 years ago Chinese emperors sent envoys to the Arab area. Friendly relations between the two sides have been developed since that time, with the two peoples being closely linked by the Silk Road, a route that has contributed enormously to foreign trade and cultural exchanges in ancient China. Arabia was the first empire in the ancient world to receive China's silk, porcelain wares, traditional Chinese medicine, as well as the four great inventions including the art of paper making, printing techniques, the compass and gunpowder.
The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. China took an active part in the Asian-African Conference held in 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia. This was an important opportunity regarding the development of Sino-Arabian relations. Egypt was the first Arab country to forge diplomatic relations with China and then other Arab countries followed, including Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Morocco, and Algeria. China began diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia on July 21, 1990. China has since established ties with all other Arab nations and these relationships represent a crucial political foundation for promoting bilateral relations.
Friendly Sino-Arab relations have entered a new phase of development in the 21st century. Political, high-level visits between the two sides have been maintained and mutual trust has been enhanced. Egyptian President Mubarak has made eight visits to China; he has been an old friend of Chinese leaders spanning four generations. The president has made great contributions to the Sino-Egyptian and Sino-Arab friendship. The two sides have established new cooperative mechanisms.
The China-Arab Cooperation Forum was established and made public in January 2004 by the Foreign Ministry of China and the Arab League (AL). The forum has been conducive to Sino-Arab relations as well as enhanced cooperation on all levels and fields. China and Arab nations are mutually complementary regarding their respective economies and the partners have maintained solid and comprehensive economic cooperation.
Up to the end of 2007, the bilateral trade volume between the two hit more than 86 billion US dollars, making the Arab nations China's the eighth largest trading partner, 11 times higher than that ten years ago.
There are also frequent cultural exchanges between China and the Arab countries increasing in tandem with political and economic cooperation. The two parties have signed a series of action plans for cultural exchanges. The first Chinese Culture Center located in the Arab area was established in Cairo in 2004 to serve as a gateway for the local people to better understand Chinese culture.
China and the Arab nations support each other and work together closely when dealing with important international and regional affairs. The two sides have common ground in safeguarding national independence, opposing hegemony and developing their national economies. China has always supported the legitimate rights and interests of the Arabs, while the Arab countries also provide their backing in China's tackling of Taiwan affairs, Tibetan issues and human rights problems, etc.