Saudi donation 'demonstrates friendship'

By Li Xiang (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-05-27 10:49

Saudi Arabia's offer of financial aid to China is an indication of the friendship between the two countries, its ambassador to China said last week.

King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz offered $50 million in cash and $10 million worth of relief materials to China three days after the Sichuan quake. It is the largest donation from a single foreign country.

"We offered such a large sum because China is a good friend to Saudi Arabia," Yahya bin Abdul-Kareem Al-Zaid, the Saudi ambassador to China, told China Daily in an interview on Friday.

"When we see our Chinese friends facing such a tremendous disaster, we can only stand by them. True friendship can only be measured when friends stand beside each other during unfortunate times."

China and Saudi Arabia have forged a strong bond and friendship since they established diplomatic ties in 1990, the ambassador said.

King Abdullah visited China immediately after taking the throne in 2006, making China his first official destination as king. Three months later, President Hu Jintao visited Saudi Arabia to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.

"When I bade farewell to King Abdullah, the Crown Prince and officials, they told me China is very important. It indicates that Saudi's relationship with China is our priority," Al-Zaid said.

Talking about the friendship between China and Saudi Arabia, the ambassador said the two nations share similar values and China deserves respect and friendship.

Al-Zaid said he was impressed by China's harmonious and collective manner in handling the disaster.

"There is no difference between government officials, military officials and the public. You see them all standing hand in hand trying to help the needy."

The ambassador, who has just come back from Chengdu, said he checked the Saudi airplanes loaded with relief materials to make sure they were delivered to people who need them.

Having served as ambassador to China for two months, Al-Zaid said his agenda is to develop Saudi's relationship with China.

Last year, bilateral trade between China and Saudi Arabia exceeded $25 billion. Saudi Arabia is China's largest trading partner in west Asia and north Africa.

The two countries have undertaken efforts to boost cooperation in many fields.

Al-Zaid said Saudi businessmen are coming to China seeking investment in goods that Saudi Arabians need. For example, they have set up plants in China to produce tents.

"But now they are manufacturing tents not for the Saudis but for Chinese people left homeless by the quake."

The ambassador said he also will explore means to push forward cultural exchanges between the two countries.

Saudi Arabian Culture Week will be held during the Beijing Olympics in August.

"I believe the Olympics is a good platform to introduce Saudi culture to the Chinese people.

"I want to convey to the Chinese people that China is very important in the hearts of Saudi people. I would feel honored if I can contribute to the better understanding between the two countries," Al-Zaid said.

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