Irshad Salim — The China-Arab States Expo kicked off Wednesday in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, demonstrating the growing economic relations between the 2nd largest global economy and the Arab world.
The event will focus on trade in commodities and services, as well as cooperation in technology, investment and tourism between China and the Arab nations which lie on the pathway of Beijing’s audacious infrastructure plan One Belt One Road.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a letter of congratulations to the Expo, noting that China and the Arab states are “good friends.” Xi said the two sides had become important partners in the construction of the One Belt One Road.
Xi said the Arab world actively responded to and widely supported his proposal that the Belt and Road should be built as a road of peace, prosperity, opening up as well as innovation, and one that connects different civilizations, during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which was held in Beijing this May.
During the construction of the Belt and Road, China is willing to promote shared opportunities with other countries, including the Arab states, and jointly promote peace with them, Xi said.
The massive infrastructural development program will potentially span 60 countries, and cost an estimated US$5 trillion. It involves building new rail networks, roadways, and pipelines across Asia, Middle East, Europe, and Africa.
It has been described by the Chinese president as the “project of the century”.
Juma Mohamed Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Economy, who is leading the UAE high-level delegation, underscored the significant importance of the international event which he described as “a strategic platform for a high-level dialogue on aspects of economic, trade, and cultural cooperation between China and Arab nations,” report Emirates News Agency WAM.
The opening ceremony of the event, which will run until September 8th, was attended by top executives from China and a number of Afro-Arab countries in the MENA region.
China is the most important trading partner of the UAE during the previous year, with a total trade volume worth AED170.2 billion.
“Arab-Chinese trade cooperation has been impressively growing over the past years, amounting to more than US$168 billion in 2016 and is projected to hit over $500 billion over the coming few years,” Al Kait noted.
“We seek to develop partnerships in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on account of its growing contributions to the Chinese economy as a direct result of the support the province has been receiving from the Chinese Central Government in Beijing in addition to the vast resources the province abounds in, which enables it to launch ambitious economic developmental plans and consequently it will be more open with the Arab and Islamic nations over the coming period,” Al Kait said.
Since 2010, three sessions of China-Arab States Economic and Trade Forum and two sessions of China-Arab States Expo has been successfully held in Ningxia, which has been widely recognized by the Arab States and other countries along the “Belt and Road” with extensive and profound influence.
A series of conferences and exhibitions will be organized at the expo including The 7th Session of the Arab-Chinese Businessmen Conference of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum; China-Arab States Business Summit 2017 and International Comprehensive Commodity and Service Exhibition, report Emirates News Agency WAM.
Other functions will include the China-Arab States Agricultural Cooperation Forum and Modern Agriculture Exhibition; China-Arab States Auto Cooperation Meeting and Chinese Auto Brand Exhibition; China-Arab States International Logistics Cooperation Meeting; China-Arab States Expo Credit Forum 2017; China-Arab States Technology Transfer and Innovation Cooperation Conference and High-tech and Equipment Exhibition; China-Arab States High-Speed Railway Session and China High-Speed Railway Technology Exhibition; China-Arab States Financial Cooperation Summit; Online Silk Road Conference and Cloud Computing and Big Data Application Exhibition; China-Arab States International Capacity Cooperation Forum and Infrastructure and Capacity Cooperation Exhibition; and China-Arab States Tour Operators Conference 2017.