China established a strategic partnership with the UAE. Cooperative agreements worth tens of billions of dollars in energy, trade, investment and cultural cooperation were signed during Wen's visit. As Wen pointed out, trade is an ancient link between China and Arab nations, which is still very active today. In recent decades, the trade volume between China and Arab nations has seen an average annual increase of 30 percent, making the Arab world one of China's leading trade partners.
Wen put forward a three-point proposal on deepening Sino-Arab relations under current complex international circumstances in a speech at the Fourth China-Arab Business Conference and Investment Seminar in Sharjah, the UAE.
These suggestions include strengthening political mutual trust, deepening mutually beneficial cooperation for common development, expanding cultural exchanges and carrying forward the traditional friendship.
Wen said China respects the paths that governments and peoples in West Asia and North Africa have chosen to develop their own economies by making use of their abundant natural resources.
Talking about reports in the Western media claiming the Chinese premier's trip was a trip for energy, Qu said China started its friendly cooperation with Arab nations in the 1950s. "At that time, China didn't import even a drop of oil," he said. "Positioning Sino-Arab cooperation as just energy cooperation is a bias. The Western media's view reflects their mindset of treating Arab nations merely as oil providers."
Energy is only part of China's diplomatic policy with nations in the Gulf area, said Li Weijian, a research fellow on West Asian and African studies with the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. He added that energy cooperation between China and Arab nations is based on their mutual needs.
Middle East nations are major oil producers, and China is the world's second biggest oil consumer. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, it is important for oil producers in the Middle East to find a market with a growing economy. In this sense, China is an ideal buyer for them. To China, it is rational to find more suppliers to secure its growing energy demand, Li said.
Energy, coupled with cooperation in economic and political fields, has made China and Arab countries good partners, Li said.
Yu Guoqing, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said enhancing political understanding and communication is an important task of Wen's visit to the three Gulf countries. "Middle East nations have recognized China's rising influence in world affairs. Also, the sensitive situation in the region has made the three nations' stance especially important," Yu said, referring to the tense regional situation caused by turbulence in Syria and clashes between Tehran and Washington.
Yu stressed that diversifying oil supplies doesn't mean China will keep its distance from Iran. Cooperation between China and Iran is always based on long-term strategic considerations, which will not be influenced by regional tensions, he said.
"I am not worried about the normal trade between China and Iran at all," Wen told reporters in Qatar.
A Vision for Energy Security
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a four-point proposal on global energy security at the Fifth World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on January 16:
- Increasing energy efficiency should be put on top of the agenda to establish national economies that feature reduced energy input, lower energy consumption and lower emissions.
- The development of renewable energy should be promoted by adopting more favorable policies to help expand technological application in an effort to cut costs.
- The world should actively promote new technologies to enhance efficiency. As long as intellectual property is properly protected, developed countries should help developing and underdeveloped countries to step up technology transfer endeavors.
- A global energy market management mechanism should be established based on the principle of mutual benefit and within the framework of the Group of 20 to effectively safeguard energy security.
(Source: Xinhua News Agency)
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