UAE’s visit to China will boost ties

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Dubai: The three-day official visit of a high-level UAE delegation to China on Sunday will mark a new era in Sino-UAE trade and socio-cultural ties, an envoy said.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will be in China beginning Sunday on a three-day official visit at the invitation of Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao.

This is Shaikh Mohammad’s third visit to the country following the ones in 2009 and 2012.

During the visit, Shaikh Mohammad is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior officials to discuss opportunities in expanding trade, economic, social and cultural exchanges.

“This visit…takes place at a critical moment when the two countries are braving various challenges hand in hand to maintain sustained development of bilateral ties and achieve more fruits in building the Belt and Road,” Chinese Ambassador to the UAE Chang Hua told Gulf News, adding that a series of agreements will be signed.

China and the UAE established diplomatic ties 31 years ago and their bilateral relationship has been “developing in a sustained, sound and smooth manner”, he said.

The UAE has been China’s second largest trading partner and biggest export market in the Mena region for many years in a row, with 2014 bilateral trade volumes hitting $54.8 billion (Dh201 billion).

But with a sluggish global economy and falling oil prices, the visit is expected to bring “fresh achievements in bilateral cooperation” in many areas, including tapping other investment options in different sectors such as renewable energy.

In 2014, China imported more than 1,165 tonnes of crude oil from the UAE, a year-on-year increase of more than 13.4 per cent. But Chang said bilateral energy cooperation is not only oil trade.

“China is the biggest investor in clean energy and producer of photo-voltaic equipment. The UAE attaches great importance to the development of renewable energy and clean energy and invested in many projects of renewable energy. We have conducted cooperation in this regard and I am confident that future cooperation in this area will have a bright future,” Chang said.

Besides trade and finance, Chang said people-to-people exchanges and knowledge transfer will also be a highlight of the discussions between the two countries. Currently, more than 200,000 Chinese live and work in the UAE.

“It is recommended that the two sides conduct personnel and institution exchanges, discuss setting up a technology transfer centre, conduct scientific research, technology transfer and investment together so that we can build an effective platform of scientific innovation and cooperation,” the ambassador said.

This can be done through the Belt and Road initiative of the Chinese government that aims to re-establish the old Silk Road trade route both on land and on sea.

“I am confident that this visit will usher a new era for bilateral relations under the framework of building the Belt and Road thanks to the care and support of the two leaders and the efforts made by all walks of life of China and the UAE,” Chang said.

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