Marching toward a brighter future
Every spring marks the high season in China's political calendar, as the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference convene thousands of delegates from all over the country for the annual two sessions. Ever since arriving in Beijing as ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to China, it has always been an honor for me to attend the opening and closing ceremonies of this landmark political event, not least because this is where China's ambitious policy blueprints for the year ahead are unveiled. Standing in front of the Great Hall of the People just days ago, I felt no less excitement than I did when I first came to this country as ambassador. Throughout my time here, I continue to witness China make history, time and again, through its unstoppable progress and deliberate, far-sighted strategy.
2022 marked a year of turbulence and uncertainties. Regardless of the difficulties, China has managed to ensure stability and achieve commendable successes and breakthroughs, of the sort that will undoubtedly multiply as the country emerges victorious from its three-year battle against the COVID pandemic. As emphasized in the Government Work Report, China has maintained remarkable economic indicators throughout 2022, even in the face of incredibly challenging circumstances. Considering the complexity and fluidity in both the internal and external environment, it is indeed impressive that China was still able to achieve a 3 percent increase in GDP and nearly an 8 percent growth in total trade volume, while keeping the urban unemployment rate down at 5.5 percent. Beyond economic prosperity, China's accomplishments in ensuring food security, maintaining financial stability, improving social welfare, accelerating green development, and other such aspects are an unimpeachable vindication of the effectiveness and astuteness of China's national strategies.
As emphasized in both the GWR and Premier Li Qiang's press conference, China will adhere to its national scheme of "opening-up" on a more ambitious scale, building the country's economic prosperity and contributing to the open world economy. I have personally witnessed the phenomenal transformational development that China's "opening-up" has brought over the time I have been here, and I expect that the country's post-COVID re-opening will prove to be the most significant economic success story of the coming year. This country is still the growth engine of the global economy, so looking ahead at a fairly precarious economic outlook worldwide, China's recent re-opening may well be that tide that lifts all boats.
When it comes to "opening-up" and engaging internationally across trade, investment and development, the UAE remains China's integral partner, and we look forward to ever-greater cooperation and continued success in the years to come. Currently, the UAE is China's largest non-oil trade partner in the region, and China is the UAE's largest trade partner overall. Over the last five years, trade between our countries has reached $234 billion. Under the complements of the bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, I believe, the goal for an annual trade volume of $200 billion by 2030 is completely realistic.
Notably, in 2023, we welcome the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative. Sharing President Xi's prescient vision and fully recognizing the global significance of the BRI, the UAE was the first Arab country to join the initiative, and its role has become increasingly indispensable, managing 60 percent of China's trade volume with the Middle East and North Africa. The UAE is not only the principal logistics hub for the BRI in the region; it is a vital stakeholder in this great project, working to engage other participating countries in encouraging trade, regional unity, and transnational communication. The UAE was also a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, whose resources and expertise we constantly work to mobilize for the promotion of sustainable infrastructural development, both in Asia and beyond. It is no accident that the UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi, has been chosen to host the AIIB's first operational hub outside of China, creating a new and essential platform for multilateral cooperation in regional development. The UAE will continue to work together with China to enhance prosperity and extend the fruits of our partnership to the entire world.
For the UAE, 2023 is not only a year of economic development but also a unique time to inspire and promote sustainability among all global citizens. This year, the UAE will host COP28, the most important climate event of the year, bringing the entire world together to discuss this most pressing issue of our times. We will consider the economic case for inclusive climate action. As an oil-rich country, the UAE has paid particular attention to the engine of its development and has been devoted to transitioning its economic model toward sustainable growth. The UAE has been wholeheartedly implementing its national goals, such as "Net Zero by 2050" and "The National Climate Change Plan of the UAE 2017-2050", which will support our ambitions of a sustainable future – for our vital industries, our economy, and Emirati society as a whole. Our concerted efforts – across diverse fields spanning science and technology, education, and finance – have accelerated our nation's goal to thrive under an economic framework that is sustainable, innovation-driven, and future-proof.
I was very proud when the UAE became the first country in the Middle East to ratify the Paris Agreement, and the first to deploy industrial-scale carbon-capture technology. The UAE continues to be a pioneer in setting the region's first renewable energy and biodiversity conservation targets. Sustainability and environmental protection have always been issues of fundamental concern to my country's leadership. As such, I was pleased to see the emphasis on sustainable and green development during the two sessions, and I am impressed by the tremendous achievements that China has already made in these areas. The UAE would also like to cooperate with China to discover more opportunities for encouraging sustainability. I am looking forward to seeing our nations build on their already remarkable cooperation, in new energy, biodiversity protection, environmental conservation, and more, leveraging our technological advancements and extending our joint efforts to other areas of cooperation, the fruits of which will be cherished and passed on by future generations.
2022 was a challenging year, but it concluded with success. As we progress through 2023, a new chapter is opening before us. China is entering a new stage of national prosperity, focusing on comprehensive high-quality development. As the pandemic fizzles away into a memory, the successful outcomes of the two sessions have outlined a positive trajectory for the way ahead. I am confident that China is marching toward a brighter future that, true to its goals, will continue to deliver "shared prosperity for all mankind." For our part, the UAE will work together with China to explore more opportunities for collaboration, for both our countries prioritize the welfare of the people and the sustainability of our beloved motherlands. I have no doubt that our two nations will continue to set a virtuous example for international cooperation, as we jointly work towards our shared visionary and optimistic goals for a future that benefits everyone.
The author is ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to China. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.
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