As the China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit brought the leaders of China and the GCC countries together for the first time in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the traditional friendship between the two sides has been carried forward and the strategicness of the relations has been further enriched.
China and the GCC countries are natural partners for cooperation, said Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday in his speech at the summit, calling on the two sides to be partners in promoting unity, development, security and civilizations.
The summit decided to establish and strengthen the strategic partnership between China and the GCC countries.
Enriching strategicness of China-GCC relations
Founded in 1981, the GCC has six member countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The GCC countries are important partners for China in its cooperation with the Middle East. China has maintained contact with the GCC ever since its establishment.
In his speech, Xi hailed the achievements made between the two sides during the past years, saying that China and the GCC countries should continue the traditional friendship and take the strategic partnership as an opportunity to enrich the strategic connotation of China-GCC relations.
He said the two sides should be partners in promoting unity, strengthen political mutual trust and firmly support each other’s core interests.
The two sides should synergize development strategies, build security together and learn from each other’s fine cultural achievements, he added.
Promoting cooperation in future
The Chinese president proposed five major areas for cooperation between China and the GCC countries in the next three to five years: energy, finance and investment, innovation and new technologies, aerospace, and language and cultures.
China will continue to import more crude oil and liquefied natural gas from the GCC countries, establish a working mechanism for bilateral investment and economic cooperation and deepen digital currency cooperation, as well as build a big data and cloud computing center with the GCC countries, according to the president.
According to data from China’s General Administration of Customs, China remains the GCC’s largest trading partner and largest export market for petrochemical products. Bilateral trade exceeded $230 billion in 2021, when Chinese fossil fuel imports from Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE reached $44.9 billion, $25.4 billion and $21.3 billion, respectively.
In recent years, the friendly relations between the two sides have consistently developed. On September 19, for instance, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with the GCC foreign ministers as a group on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. During the meeting, the two sides agreed to “make joint efforts to reach common ground on the China-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at an early date, so as to release positive signals and to help each other achieve better development.”
Leaders from other GCC countries spoke highly of GCC-China relations and the summit, saying that they believe the first summit is a grand gathering in the history of GCC-China relations and an important milestone.
The GCC countries firmly support the one-China principle and are ready to work with China to implement the outcomes of the summit, deepen bilateral cooperation in key areas and bring more benefits to the two peoples.
The summit also issued a joint statement and adopted the 2023-2027 action plan for the strategic dialogue between China and the GCC countries.