Proud of Our Genuine Friendship with China – An Interview with UAE Ambassador Omar Al Bitar

By staff reporter CHEN JING

Thirty years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United Arab Emirates, the two countries are witnessing monumental, across-the-board developments. On this occasion, China Today spoke to UAE Ambassador to China Omar Al Bitar to learn about the past and prospects of friendly relations between the two countries.


 UAE Ambassador to China Omar Al Bitar.

China Today: The relationship between China and the UAE is one characterized by friendship and fruitful cooperation. What have been the highlights of the development of bilateral relations over the past 30 years?

Ambassador Al Bitar: The relationship between Arabs and Chinese people date back thousands of years to the Silk Road, so when talking about modern relations between the UAE and China we need to do so against their historical framework. The evolution of the two countries’ relationship was channeled via the commercial and cultural Silk Road, which linked our peoples.

The Arab region occupies a central position in the world. It was important for China’s crossing to the West and remains so today. The rise of Islam in the Arab region further contributed to the strengthening of this relationship, as Muslim traders arrived in China. Historical evidence proves the deep, booming and developed cultural and human relations that were fostered, based on peace and love. Therefore, today’s strategy cited by Chinese President Xi Jinping to create “one belt and one road” is a significant continuation of the path of the Silk Road and Sino-Arab relations.

Diplomatic relations between China and the UAE were established on November 1, 1984, so 2014 marked 30 years of modern relations. To talk about the highlights of our countries’ relationship involves sifting through decades of important events, starting with the initiation of relations between the UAE and China led by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who recognized the importance of China and the importance of building relations with China. We in the UAE have a deep respect and love for China and the Chinese people. Our relations are burgeoning in all areas and have been consolidated via numerous visits to China by our top leaders.

China Today: Economic and trade ties between the two countries are just as important as political and diplomatic relations. Can you expound on how cooperation in trade and economics is benefiting both sides?

Ambassador Al Bitar: From 1998 to the end of 2013, so within 15 years, trade between the two countries increased 31-fold. In my opinion, this is a distinct indicator of the success of our economic relations. The UAE is the first destination in the Middle East for Chinese tourists thanks to the advantages of entertainment, shopping and fun experiences, and the number of Chinese visitors is increasing. More and more Emiratis are visiting China, too.

I would like to talk about politics here because political ideologies provide the general framework of all these developments – if there were no political consensus between the two sides to ensure the smooth running of economic relations, the partnership would risk collapse. There is a saying, “capital is coward,” meaning investment normally steers away from zones of conflict. But mutual trust between China and the UAE enhances the relations in all fields. China has opened banks in the UAE on the basis of trust and UAE banks will open branches in China in the near future.

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