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UAE and China: Not just a visit

By Ahmed Saeed Al-Alawi | | Updated: 2024-05-30 14:25
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The author: Ahmed Saeed Al-Alawi

Between the UAE and the People's Republic of China lies a history crafted by time, witnessed, and documented. Between their leaders lies an unforgotten past, a present that bears witness to what has passed, and a future awaiting what is to come. The latest is an eagerly anticipated visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to China. This journey promises to strengthen further the profound relationship between these two nations.

This pivotal trip is more than just a high-level diplomatic journey; it is something more profound. It is building a bridge connecting the two countries whose relations have always been special in terms of partnership, cooperation and mutual respect.

In this visit, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan continues his confident and insightful path towards enhancing the UAE's international relations and strengthening its ties with major countries, especially at this time when the world is witnessing a crisis that is sending shock waves all over the globe, exhausting relentless diplomatic and humanitarian efforts assertively pursuing to establish peace, security and stability.

This visit is well known to carry numerous messages that align with visions of peace and cooperation. Undoubtedly drawing global attention, it reflects more than the boundaries of bilateral relations, touching upon international issues at a time when the world is experiencing a worsening polycrisis.

What amplifies its significance is that the visit coincides with the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and the People's Republic of China, which adds historical symbolism reflecting the depth of relations that began in 1984 before a history of exceptional success in international politics and bilateral relations began.

Over four decades, continuous efforts have been made to strengthen and solidify relations between the two countries, witnessing substantial growth and fruitful cooperation in various fields, including economy, culture, technology and education. This has laid the foundations for unique relations and illuminated the path of diplomatic ties based on respect and solidarity, but it has also enhanced the countries’ standing on the international stage.

Four decades have led to the signing of more than 148 bilateral agreements and memorandum of understanding covering various economic, cultural and technological fields.

Over the past four decades, bilateral relations have experienced several milestones, most notably when then Chinese president Yang Shangkun visited the UAE and met with the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in December 1989. The visit was followed by an official one paid by Sheikh Zayed officially to China in May 1990, the first of its kind by a Gulf state leader to China.

In 2019, UAE-China relations witnessed a significant leap with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s visit in July of the same year, when he was crown prince.

However, this upcoming visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to China, his first since assuming the presidency, comes amid different global circumstances. The Economic crises cast shadows over nations, environmental challenges disturb people, and international events plant fear in hearts.

In this context, international cooperation and strategic partnerships are essential tools for facing these challenges. Hence, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit to China reflects determination and insistence on building a better world characterized by cooperation and integration among peoples and rejecting division, conflicts, and wars.

Undoubtedly, the UAE and China play a pivotal role in enhancing stability, security, and sustainable development on both regional and international levels. Their bilateral cooperation not only benefits the two countries but also radiates positive effects on the region and the world, spreading benefits across various fields, including renewable energy, technology, economy, and trade. This robust cooperation builds a strong shield against global challenges such as climate change, food security, and economic crises, fostering a sense of optimism and hope for a better future.

Since the economy is a robust bridge for building relationships between countries, strengthening cooperation, and paving the way for shared peace and prosperity, trade partnerships between the UAE and China are the cornerstone of bilateral relations. In 2023, their non-oil foreign trade reached about 296 billion AED ($81 billion), registering a growth of 4.2 percent compared to the previous year. China is the UAE's top trading partner in non-oil trade, accounting for 12 percent of this trade.

China ranks third as the most significant global investor in the UAE, with investments reaching around $7 billion by the end of 2021. In return, UAE investments in China amounted to about $2.3 billion by the end of 2022 in vital sectors such as telecommunications, renewable energy, transportation and storage, hotels, and tourism. These figures are not merely economic data but are living testimonies to the strength of relations and the depth of cooperation between the two countries.

The relations between the UAE and China are not limited to economic and political aspects but extend to cultural and educational cooperation. These solid relations have boosted prospects of knowledge and love, deepened human bonds, and solidified civilizational connections between their peoples. This is especially true as the UAE has shown significant interest in Chinese culture, with the Chinese language being taught in many UAE schools. Similarly, in China, the Sheikh Zayed Center for Arabic Language and Islamic Studies in Beijing stands as a cultural and civilized beacon.

All those above have crafted a unique state of UAE-China relations, reflected in the upcoming visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This visit reinforces cooperation not just as a strategic partnership but as a model for international collaboration.

These unique relations represent a futuristic vision for a more cooperative and sustainable world, which is reinforced by the UAE's role as a global actor striving to achieve stability and build a better world through enhancing dialogue, tolerance and cooperation.

The autrhor is the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ain News.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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