The United Arab Emirates’ state visit to China from July 21 to 23, kindly granted by President Xi Jinping to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, along with a considerable UAE delegation of government and businesses, has advanced the relationship between our two countries in very real and practical ways.
This proved to be a momentous visit, with many noteworthy achievements. What was agreed was summed up succinctly through an announcement echoed by both President Xi Jinping and His Highness: China and the UAE will work toward increasing the bilateral trade volume to $200 billion by 2030. The target here is more than a threefold increase, as trade is now estimated to be worth around $60 billion annually. So, we can see extremely ambitious plans, a testament to the deepening relationship between our two nations.
In order to achieve a practical way of making strides toward this target, the Chinese and UAE delegations, led by President Xi Jinping and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan respectively, signed 16 agreements and memorandums of understanding, with the aim of strengthening cooperation across a vast number of areas, including economy, trade, investment, technology, artificial intelligence, culture and education, as well as protecting the environment and achieving food security. We now have a substantial result in this respect, complementing the strong synergy from President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UAE last year, with 14 memorandums and the setting in motion of the comprehensive strategic partnership.
Cross-border investments have increased in a significant way, and Chinese and UAE companies are working in tandem to share technology, capital and market access. Financial cooperation is also deepening, as demonstrated by the agreement for China Everbright Group to set up its MENA financial and investment hub in the Abu Dhabi Global Market.
A bold vision was outlined, as President Xi Jinping and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan sat down together and signed an agreement aligning common goals. This document included commitments to development, growth, prosperity and stability. Among other aspects, there was also an agreement to adhere to the principles of mutual interest, equality and understanding.
Another series of milestones stemmed from the UAE-China Economic Forum, where 19 agreements and memorandums were signed by a broad range of sectors between numerous UAE and China businesses. This forum showed the level of sophistication achieved in the UAE-China relationship, as opportunities for joint action for investment were explored with a high-ranking ministerial delegation and business leaders from the respective nations. Such achievements are the result of decades of hard work, since the first visit of the late Sheikh Zayed in 1990, as the first leader to China from the Arab region.
There was a fitting send-off toward the end of the visit, as a celebration was held marking the 35th anniversary of the establishment of friendship and bilateral relations between the United Arab Emirates and the People’s Republic of China. A grand ceremony took place in Beijing, which was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan, the staff of the diplomatic mission and many high-level dignitaries, ministers, businesses and investors. There were even more agreements and memorandums achieved on the sidelines of this event, between a number of Emirati and Chinese businesses, five more to cap off an extremely fruitful trip to China.
The celebration culminated with the unveiling by His Highness of a new building for the new UAE embassy to China in Beijing. A modern and forward-looking building, this provides a physical expression of the long-lasting vision for the UAE-China relationship. The new embassy is a symbol in itself, and a physical expression of a blueprint come to life, as the comprehensive strategic partnership outlined last year is in full swing, progressing and in action. Our relationship has now reached a higher level, with bilateral cooperation in full swing.
The collective vision between our countries is bold. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan emphasized, “The two sides are laying pillars for the next 100 years, beginning with steps to teach the Chinese language in more than 200 schools in the UAE.” The vision of His Highness is supported by a memorandum between the UAE Ministry of Education and the Confucius Institute headquarters of China, which will provide high-quality Chinese language instruction in UAE schools, ensuring clearer communication and understanding in a shared lingua franca for generations to come.
His Highness concluded his visit stating that the two sides are creating a “road map” for a century of prosperity as he concluded a landmark three-day visit to Beijing.
So, we can see, we are just a few steps along the road. This is a very Chinese long-term view to civilization. Our countries are looking forward to the future. Setting the sail in line with the prosperous winds is something the UAE and China both share, as forward-looking nations with a vision of a globalized world.
The author is ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to China.