Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Artificial intelligence, immune to fear or favour, is helping to make China’s foreign policy

The programme draws on a huge amount of data, with information ranging from cocktail-party gossip to images taken by spy satellites, to contribute to strategies in Chinese diplomacy

Stephen Chen

South China Morning Post - Monday, 30 July, 2018

Attention, foreign-policy makers. You will soon be working with, or competing against, a new type of robot with the potential to change the game of international politics forever.
Diplomacy is similar to a strategic board game. A country makes a move, the other(s) respond. All want to win.
Artificial intelligence is good at board games. To get the game started, the system analyses previous play, learns lessons from defeats or even repeatedly plays against itself to devise a strategy that can be never thought of before by humans.
It has defeated world champions in chess and Go. More recently, it has won at no-limit Texas Hold’em poker, an “imperfect information game” in which a player does not have access to all information at all times, a situation familiar in the world of diplomatic affairs.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Xi, Erdogan agree to enhance China-Turkey cooperation


Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed on July 26 to strengthen bilateral cooperation.  Xi and Erdogan met on the sidelines of the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The China-Turkey strategic cooperative relationship has seen smooth development in recent years with progress achieved in cooperation in various fields, Xi said, adding that China is willing to make joint efforts with Turkey to refresh and further promote bilateral cooperation.  Xi urged both sides to transform the consensus reached by him and Erdogan into concrete results, maintain exchanges at all levels and in various fields, enhance political mutual trust, boost policy communication, take care of each other's core interests and major concern, and strive for breakthroughs in security and counter-terrorism cooperation.  Calling China and Turkey natural partners in the joint construction of the Belt and Road, Xi said both sides should push for an early launch of major cooperation projects and achieve early results in aligning their development strategies.  He also called on the two countries to deepen people-to-people and cultural exchanges.  Turkey is an important emerging market economy in the Middle East, Xi said, stressing that China is looking forward to strengthening communication and cooperation with Turkey through the "BRICS Plus" model.  Erdogan said the development of Turkey-China relations is satisfying.  Turkey is willing to carry out closer high-level exchanges with China and deepen cooperation in such fields as economy and trade, investment, infrastructure construction, counter-terrorism and security, which is conducive to regional development and stability, he said.  The Turkish side supports the joint construction of the Belt and Road, opposes protectionism and stands for free trade, said Erdogan, adding that his country is willing to boost communication and coordination with China in international affairs.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Call for papers: 5th China and The Middle East Conference - May 16, 17 and 18, 2019 Northwest University, Xi’an, CHINA

Call for papers: 

5th China and The Middle East Conference

May 16, 17 and 18, 2019 Northwest University, Xi’an
People’s Republic of China

For more information: tugrulk (at) vt.edu

Great Mosque of Xi'an 

Short documentary of Ramadan in Hui Muslim Community of Xi'an China 

Xi'an, China 

Terracotta Army – Xi’an: 
The greatest archaeological find of the 20th century - BBC News 

Chinese envoy: Two-state solution fundamental to resolve Palestine-Israel conflict

Xinhua - 2018-07-26

Chinese ambassador to the UN Ma Zhaoxu said Tuesday that the "two-state solution" is the fundamental way to resolve conflicts between Palestine and Israel while calling for increased efforts to resume talks.  The Chinese envoy made the remarks when speaking at the United Nations Security Council's open debate on the Middle East situation.  Describing the situation between Palestine and Israel as "deeply worrying" and "fragile", Ma said, "'The two-state solution' is the fundamental way to resolve conflicts" between them.  "The international community should adhere to the relevant UN resolutions, the principle of 'land for peace' and the Arab Peace Initiative in scaling up its efforts for the resumption of talks," he added.  In particular, Ma said, "Concrete actions should be taken to implement Security Council resolution 2334, cease all settlement activities on the occupied territory and the demolition of Palestinian houses and property."  While urging to stop violence against civilians and take steps to meet each other halfway so as to create necessary conditions, the Chinese envoy also proposed to convene a new international conference for an early resumption of talks.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

BRICS emerging as a force to upgrade global governance

By Swaran Singh 

Global Times - 2018/7/26

The Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg this week is abuzz with over 5,000 delegates representing international organizations like the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the African Union as also 19 countries from major emerging economies. These 19 emerging economies include five BRICS nations that are holding their annual summit, five leaders representing the world's major emerging economies under the "BRICS Plus" mechanism that was initiated last year at the Xiamen summit, and another nine African nations under their earlier "BRICS+N" framework that was introduced at the 2014 Fortaleza summit and involves BRICS leaders' outreach with major "regional" leaders depending on where the summit is taking place.

Flexibility by design: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the future of Eurasian cooperation

Zurich, May 2018
Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) should be  given  more  attention  as  China  and  Russia  increasingly   turn their attention to Central Asia. The two regional he - gemons have used the SCO as a platform to balance and  coordinate  their  interests  in  the  Central  Asian  region.  As   its primary initiator, the SCO constitutes China’s most im - portant  policy  tool  for  regional  security  in  its  Western   neighborhood. For Russia, which has co-led the organiza - tion,  the  SCO  is  a  well-established  format  for  Sino-Rus - sian-Central Asian cooperation, which can potentially be  used to promote its plans for a Greater Eurasian Partner - ship.  The  SCO  is  also  of  strategic  and  political  relevance   for  its  Central  Asian  members,  which  lack  alternative  in - clusive cooperation platforms. The SCO evolved from an  ad hoc  cooperation to  address immediate security concerns which appeared as  a  consequence  of  the  breakdown  of  the  Soviet  Union.   Since then, the SCO member states established problem- solving   mechanisms   and   processes,   and   developed   a    broader  approach  to  regional  governance.  To  a  large  ex - tent, form and content of the SCO have been defined by  Chinese foreign policy principles and priorities. Today,  the  organization  is  at  a  crossroads.  Chi - na’s  economic  rise  has  shifted  the  power  balance  within   Central  Asia,  as  well  as  within  the  SCO.  Anxious  about   China’s growing dominance, Russia does its best to coun - terbalance  China’s  weight.  It  has  blocked  Chinese  at - tempts  at  deepening  economic  integration  among  SCO   members and supported India’s entry to the organization  in  order  to  dilute  China’s  dominant  position  within  the   SCO.  As  a  consequence  of  this  imbalance,  the  SCO   could  either  remain  a  relevant  actor  for  cooperation  in   Eurasia  or  risks  degenerating  into  a  symbolic  organiza - tion. The interviews conducted for this study suggest that  this will, in large part, depend on the role that the SCO will  be  given  in  the  respective  foreign  policy  strategies  of  its   leading  member  states,  China  and  Russia.  Indeed,  it  has   been these two countries‘ commitments that have given  the organization its role and significance in the past.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

China and the Middle East: Why the UAE is deepening ties with Beijing

Despite uncertainty over China’s long-term regional ambitions, the UAE’s need for investment at a time of decreasing oil prices means has rolled out the red carpet

Camille Lons Wednesday 25 July 2018

The UAE rolled out the red carpet last week for Chinese President Xi Jinping, marking the first visit of a Chinese leader to the country in three decades.
At a time when China’s increased footprint in the Middle East has come under the spotlight, the two countries announced the signing of 13 agreements in various sectors, including energy cooperation.
“We have many areas of political and economic agreement and a solid base of projects in the energy, technology and infrastructure sectors,” Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“More importantly, [we have] a strong political will to start a greater phase of cooperation and integration.”


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Red-carpet welcome for Chinese President Xi Jinping in United Arab Emirates, ‘gateway to Middle East’

Trip meant as show of support for multilateralism and contrast to US protectionism, analyst says 

South China Morning Post - Friday, 20 July, 2018

The United Arab Emirates rolled out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first stop on his trip to the Middle East and Africa as China seeks closer ties with the region.
The UAE sent 12 F-16s and Mirage aircraft to escort the Chinese leader’s plane into Abu Dhabi on Thursday and gave Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan a 21-gun salute on arrival.
After his three-day stay at the Gulf state – the first by a Chinese leader in nearly three decades, Xi will head to Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa for the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, before stopping over in Mauritius on the way home.
It is Xi’s first overseas trip since the start of his second term in March, and comes as China and the United States are on the brink of a full-scale trade war.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Will China Undermine Trump's Iran Strategy?

By Dina Esfandiary and Ariane M. Tabatabai

FOREIGN AFFAIRS - July 20, 2018 

Tehran Is Hedging Against International Isolation

In May, President Donald Trump announced that he was pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal. A few weeks later, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined the administration’s aggressive new Iran policy, which was designed to prevent the country’s emergence from isolation. This strategy, the Trump administration believes, will force Iran to return to the table and make a “bigger and better” deal that addresses the president’s concerns with the existing agreement. For Tehran, a full economic recovery and renewed ties with Western countries now seem unlikely. But this doesn’t mean that the Trump administration’s plans will succeed.  For the better part of two decades, Iran’s leadership has been hedging against international isolation by developing deeper ties with China and Russia. Today, as Washington once again seeks to tighten the screws, Tehran sees its relationship with Beijing as key to remaining afloat. China has announced it will likely continue importing oil from Iran, even after the United States moves to cut down Iranian oil sales down to zero by November. And Chinese engagement with Iran might pave the ground for others to follow suit, which would undermine the new U.S. pressure campaign.


UAE holds grand welcome ceremony for President Xi's state visit

2018-07-20 - Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is paying a state visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), attended a grand welcome ceremony held here by the country's leadership on Friday.
Xi was received at the Presidential Palace by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The Chinese president was greeted by horse guards and a UAE Air Force aerobatic display team. A 21-gun salute was also fired when Xi arrived at the palace.
The national anthems of both countries were played and Xi, accompanied by the Crown Prince, reviewed a guard of honor.
Xi kicked off his state visit to the UAE on Thursday, the first by a Chinese head of state in 29 years to the Arab state.


Chinese President Arrives in Abu Dhabi for State Visit to UAE

Chinese president Xi Jinping arrives in UAE on state visit

UAE leaders welcome the Chinese leader on historic visit that celebrates strategic partnership between two nations

Gulf News - July 20, 2018

Abu Dhabi: President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China arrived here on Thursday on a three-day state visit to the UAE accompanied by First Lady Peng Liyuan. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received the distinguished guests and his accompanying delegation at the Presidential Flight.


China’s Xi arrives in the UAE for state visit

ARAB NEWS - JULY 19, 2018

DUBAI: President Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit, after the announcement of oil and trade deals between China and the UAE. Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said he was "delighted" to welcome Xi, posting photos on Twitter of the Chinese president receiving flowers on landing in the emirate. "This is a historic visit and represents a new stage of cooperation in all fields, which will bring growth, development and prosperity to the people of our nations," said the crown prince of the UAE capital. Abu Dhabi is the first stop on Xi's tour, which also includes Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

China in the Middle East: Behind Xi's economic charm offensive

We examine why China is pledging billions of dollars in loans and aid to revive growth in the Middle East.

AL-JAZEERA- 14 Jul 2018 

China, the world's second-largest consumer of crude, has stepped up its investment in the oil-rich Middle East with a pledge of more than $23bn in loans and millions more in aid.
President Xi Jinping also wants talks on free trade areas and is putting forward an "oil and gas plus" investment model to representatives of 21 Arab nations at a forum in Beijing. He believes it's a model that can create jobs and helps safeguard China's future energy requirements.


Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations

“Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” provides a general overview of the history of U.S. engagement with the world through short essays on important moments, or milestones, in the diplomatic history of the United States. The basic objective of these essays is to provide a clear, accurate, narrative account of the events being discussed, with a brief discussion of each event’s significance for U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic history. The publication is divided into 19 chapters covering time periods from 1750 until 2000, with brief introductions providing context for each period.


The future of US-EU relations By Jiang Shixue

China.org.cn, July 17, 2018  

Transatlantic relations, or U.S.-European Union (EU) ties, are the most important bilateral relationship in the world. For the past seven decades after World War II, this relationship has gone through many ups and downs. As both the U.S. and the EU are major partners for China, a realistic judgment of its movement as well as its nature can have an important impact on the decision-making behind its foreign policy. 
Brothers in battle 
Soon after World War II, the U.S. wasted no time in rebuilding Western European economies by implementing the Marshal Plan. Officially known as the European Recovery Program, this plan was supported by the U.S. capital in the amount of $13 billion, nearly $110 billion in 2016 (adjusted for inflation).  During the Cold War, the U.S. and its anti-communist European allies defeated the Soviet Union, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, and the subsequent disintegration of the first socialist country on December 25, 1991.


American companies and Chinese Belt and Road in Africa

Yun Sun

BROOKINGS - Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When it comes to Africa, it is no secret that the United States and China have very different philosophies. China adopts a more state-led approach, with state-owned enterprises and policy banks spearheading Africa’s infrastructure development. The U.S. is more willing to let private companies and the market take the lead on commercial development, while the U.S. government itself puts more emphasis on the continent’s capacity building and governance challenges. A long-standing question has been whether these two powerhouses could join forces and cooperate to advance Africa’s development. Such discussions have happened between the two governments. In 2014, it was reported that Obama’s signature Power Africa initiative was considering partnership with China on improving electricity in Africa. Around the same time, China reportedly approached the U.S. on collaboration on the ambitious Inga-3 hydropower projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, years have gone by without much progress on these speculations due to multiple considerations, especially political, economic, and reputational.


Make no mistake, China's Belt and Road initiative is a huge opportunity

There is a sense that the BRI is more than just bricks and mortar, that it is about more than economic gains.  It is a '21st century reimagining of historical trading roads', writes Sholto Byrnes 

The National -  July 16, 2018

Who will provide global leadership, facilitate trade and growth and contribute to new norms and rules in the coming decades? When it comes to the Eurasian continent, it is obvious that a great power is rising (or, more correctly, that an old power has risen again). And while it will be accompanied by many partners, it is that one country whose trajectory will be most important to making “the Asian century” a success for all – China.  One of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature policies towards that end is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which combines a land “economic belt” and a “maritime silk road” that will link China with Southeast, South and Central Asia, the Arabian Gulf, North Africa and then finally with Europe.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

For China, the Belt and Road run through the Middle East

The most recent forum with Arab states made clear that the region is increasingly more central to the success of China’s bid for influence through trade and development

SCMP - Saturday, 14 July, 2018

The eighth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) was held last week, bringing the foreign ministers of the 22 Arab League member states together with their Chinese counterpart, State Councilor Wang Yi. Not surprisingly, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was a central focus of the meeting. The CASCF was begun in 2004 as a mechanism to promote Sino-Arab cooperation on political, economic and cultural issues. The Ministerial Meeting takes place every two years, setting the agenda for the next two-year cycle and identifying areas of shared concern. The last meeting, held in Qatar, emphasized the BRI as a means of strengthening ties; this one underscored the importance Beijing has come to place on stability in the Arab world if the BRI is to achieve its ambitious goals.


Fruitful conference in Beijing ushers in new chapter of China-Arab ties: Arab experts

Xinhua | 2018-07

CAIRO, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Arab experts lauded the just-concluded China-Arab cooperation conference for ushering in a new chapter of the China-Arab relations by producing a blueprint for future development of the strategic partnership.  The eighth ministerial conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), held on Tuesday in Beijing, China, approved the Beijing Declaration, a Declaration of Action on Sino-Arab Belt and Road Cooperation, and an action plan guiding the development of the CASCF from 2018 to 2020.  Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a speech at the opening ceremony of the conference, announced that China and the Arab countries had agreed to establish a "future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and common development."


China’s Western March Into The Middle East

CHINA’S INTERESTS IN the Middle East are quietly expanding, driven by the region’s growing role as a source of energy and as a recipient of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) investment.
The eighth meeting of the China Arab States Cooperation Forum, (pictured above) held with some fanfare in Beijing this month, brought that into focus, with Beijing promising $23 billion of funding to its guests.
Such large-headline-number funding packages (not that $23 billion is that large by the standards of these things) tend to comprise money already spent or committed and money that will never materialise. But $150 million that will likely be shelled out is the sum allocated to ‘social stability’. As in Africa, Chinese investments in the Middle East are at risk from social and political developments in the region. (See Libya, Zambia and Angola for precedents.)


Friday, July 13, 2018

China's major diplomatic move: Xi's visits to five Arab and African countries and attending BRICS summit

Xinhua | 2018-07-13

BEIJING, July 13 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping will pay state visits to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa, respectively, from July 19 to 24, and attend the 10th BRICS summit from July 25 to 27 in Johannesburg and then visit Mauritius for a stopover.  Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou on Friday said this is Xi's first time to visit foreign countries after his re-election as Chinese president in March and it is also China's major diplomatic move to target developing countries against the backdrop of profound changes in the context of international situation.  Xi's visits will promote China-UAE bilateral ties, the Belt and Road construction in the Gulf region, peace and stability in the Middle East, and building a closer community of shared future for China and Africa, Kong said.  The upcoming visits will deepen ties between China and five Arab and African countries, strengthen cooperation between China and the developing countries in Asia and Africa, Kong said, noting that Xi's visits will gain favor for the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in September.


How China is Emerging as the Leading Global Player in the Arab World

SPUTNIK - 12.07.2018

China is stepping up cooperation with the Arab world. The recent China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) was aimed at deepening economic and security cooperation between Beijing and Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa within the framework of the One Belt, One Road project, analysts told Sputnik.
China has outlined a "future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and common development" for Arab countries — something that no other country has offered to the region — during the eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) that was held on July 10 in Beijing.


Sino-Arab cooperation reaches new high under Belt & Road Initiative -- Egyptian ex-PM

Xinhua - 2018/7/13

The growing cooperation between China and the Arab states has reached new heights in recent years, particularly after China launched its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Egypt's former Prime Minister Essam Sharaf told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Thursday.  China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) was established 14 years ago, but its effectiveness has greatly increased and the Chinese-Arab trade exchange remarkably multiplied in the years following the BRI proposal, said Sharaf, head of Sharaf Foundation for Sustainable Development.  The eighth CASCF ministerial meeting was held Tuesday in Beijing, where China vowed to assist Arab economies and establish a future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and common development.  Sharaf said that the recently held CASCF meeting has been based on the growing understanding and win-win partnership between the two sides.  "This meeting has shown that there is a present strategy for Sino-Arab cooperation with a work schedule based on the BRI. When there are clear policies and specific agendas, there become more authentic projects and cooperation under the BRI umbrella, which is very encouraging," said the former prime minister.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Chinese president to visit five Arab and African countries, attend BRICS summit

Xinhua - 2018-07-12

BEIJING, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay state visits to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa from July 19 to 24, attend the 10th BRICS summit from July 25 to 27 in Johannesburg and visit Mauritius during a stopover, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced Thursday.  Xi is paying the state visits at the invitation of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a statement.  Xi will attend the BRICS summit at the invitation of President Ramaphosa, Lu said. BRICS is the acronym for an emerging-market bloc that groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.  On his way home, Xi will also pay a friendly visit to Mauritius during a stopover, Lu added.

Middle East to receive $20bn from China: Why the interest in the region?

AMEInfo - July 12, 2018

The Trump China trade war is a ‘plus’ to the region.  It’s a plus, because it turned China’s attention and interest to the Middle East the GCC, aiming to shift economic presence to the 5-star red flag from the US Stars and Stripes and become a main trading partner.  But what’s behind China’s sudden show of affection in the form of loans and philanthropy to the region, in what it calls the “oil and gas plus” model? Middle East nations will have at their disposal $20 billion in loans, and about $106 million in financial aid, to revive their economies.  This was announced At the China Arab forum being held in Beijing this week, where 21 Arab countries are participating, Reuters reports.  China produces half of its oil and gas supply and imports the other half from the Middle East. Yet, the East Asian nation has always maintained a relative distance in its business dealings, avoiding the complications of politics and other sensitive issues their business partners are going through and instead opting to remain strictly professional.


China looks to invest in north Lebanon

The Daily Star - Jul. 12, 2018

BEIRUT: The long-mooted revival of the railway between Tripoli and the Lebanese-Syrian border may have finally found an investor, with profound implications not only for the economy of north Lebanon but for the balance of power in the wider Middle East.  “We have a proverb saying, “If you want to get rich, build a road,” said Eliana Ibrahim, president of the China Arab Association for Promoting Cultural and Commercial Exchange. Ibrahim told The Daily Star that a Chinese company is ready to submit a proposal to finance the reconstruction of a much-discussed railway from Tripoli to the Lebanese-Syrian border, although she said the bid was “not at the stage” where she could name the company.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

China wants Saudi as key Belt and Road partner

Oscar Rousseau


 China's government wants closer ties with Saudi Arabia on the trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative, and the kingdom's Vision 2030 strategy.  China's state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi called for "deeper synergy" between the $5tn (AED18.3tn) Belt and Road megaproject, and the Saudi Vision 2030 development strategy at a press conference in China's capital city, Beijing.   He said China wanted to support Saudi Arabia's blueprint for building a thriving economy by exploring cooperation in numerous fields, which may include infrastructure projects supporting the Belt and Road and Vision 2030.  “China and Saudi Arabia should make full use of the high-level joint committee between the two countries and promote concrete cooperation in various fields,” Wang said.  HE Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, added that the country's economic diversification and industrial development roadmap was "highly consistent" with the Asian powerhouse's Belt and Road.


The Belt and Road Initiative will provide a beneficial wave for the GCC

China is offering the GCC countries access to a new global marketplace

Dr Jin Liangxiang and Dr N. Janardhan

The National - JULY 11, 2018

China’s Belt and Road Initiative invokes historic memories of the Silk Road, which facilitated communication, trade and exchanges between civilisations. In its current form, the initiative is designed to further China’s economic and foreign policies. It is rooted in China enjoying economic success through infrastructure development.  As China takes on a more global role, the plan is to replicate this strategy abroad, with BRI becoming a tool to build a “common human community with a shared future”.  By attempting to create land and maritime trade routes linking China with Europe, through Asia (including the Middle East) and Africa, Beijing intends to help its own growth and that of others too.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

China and Arab States: Natural Partners in Belt and Road Initiative By Wang Yi/Beijing

Wang Yi is State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China.
The Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Co-operation Forum (CASCF) will be held in Beijing on July 10. It will be attended by Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, representatives from the other 21 Arab countries, and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, and President Xi Jinping will address the opening ceremony. This meeting will be another important event in China-Arab relations, following President Xi’s participation in the sixth CASCF Ministerial Meeting in 2014 and his visits to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Arab League headquarters in 2016. At the meeting, China and Arab states are expected to have in-depth discussions on how to jointly advance the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and strengthen overall co-operation with a view to drawing up a blueprint for China-Arab relations in the new era.  China and Arab countries share a long history of exemplary interactions. The past 2,000 years have witnessed uninterrupted exchanges between the Chinese and Arab peoples through land and sea links, which facilitated mutual learning between two great civilisations. Since the mid-20th century, we have supported each other in our respective struggles for national independence and development, writing a new chapter of friendship and co-operation. The inception of the CASCF in 2004 has further upgraded China-Arab relations, by adding a new driver in addition to the bilateral channels, and has thus accelerated the growth of China-Arab co-operation across the board. As President Xi aptly puts it, China and Arab countries, who are natural partners in Belt and Road co-operation, need to follow the Silk Road spirit of peace and co-operation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, and seek greater synergy in our respective pursuits of national renewal. The visionary guidance and commitment coming from our leaders have lent a fresh impetus to China-Arab relations. The last four years have seen multiple highlights in the fruitful exchanges and co-operation between China and Arab states, with a special focus on Belt and Road co-operation. lOver the past four years, we have maintained frequent high-level exchanges, including President Xi’s successful visits to the Middle East and visits to China by the heads of state of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Palestine. Such exchanges have contributed to deepening political trust and kept bilateral ties running at a high level. China has established or upgraded its strategic relations with 11 Arab countries. It has supported Arab countries in exploring their own paths of development, and Palestine in restoring the lawful rights of its people. Arab countries, on their part, have given China valuable support on issues concerning its core and major interests. The scope of our results-oriented business co-operation and people-to-people exchanges has kept growing to cover a wide range of areas, including satellite launch and cotton production. The CASCF institution building has made significant progress. The effective operation of over ten mechanisms, including the Ministerial Meeting, the Senior Officials’ Meeting, the Entrepreneurs Conference, and the Energy co-operation Conference, has fuelled our Belt and Road co-operation in various respects. lOver the past four years, we have worked in concert to cement the “1+2+3” co-operation framework featuring one focus (energy co-operation), two priority areas (infrastructure and trade and investment facilitation), and three high-tech sectors for breakthroughs (nuclear energy, aviation satellite and new energy). Sustained efforts have been made to advance the “four action plans”, namely co-operation in four major fields of promoting stability, identifying new forms of co-operation, conducting production capacity co-operation, and deepening friendship. Our pursuit of greater complementarity between development strategies has resulted in new progress in China-Arab co-operation. China has signed Belt and Road co-operation MoUs with nine Arab states and production capacity co-operation agreements with five Arab states. Both the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank have invested in Arab countries. In 2017, China-Arab trade approached US$200bn, up by 11.9% year-on-year, and direct Chinese investment in Arab countries reached $1.26bn, an increase of 9.3%. lOver the past four years, we have added new dimensions to our co-operation in the traditional areas of energy, infrastructure and trade. The Hassyan clean coal power plant in Dubai, equipped with the world-leading ultra-supercritical technology, and the Attarat power plant in Jordan, a dream come true of oil shale power generation, have taken China-Arab power co-operation to a new level. Several large infrastructure projects are well underway, including Phase II of the Khalifa Port in the United Arab Emirates and train project in the 10th of Ramadan City of Egypt. They are expected to make the development of Arab countries better connected. Moreover, the cluster effect of the China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade co-operation Zone is being felt. Our co-operation has continued to upgrade and deepen through innovation. We have inaugurated a Technology Transfer Centre, and held a successful Beidou co-operation Forum. China has helped Algeria put its first communications satellite into orbit, setting an example for such co-operation between China and Arab states. The China-Arab States Research Center on Reform and Development and the China-Arab States Forums on Reform and Development, have been warmly received by Arab countries. lOver the past four years, we have added more substances to our mutually beneficial co-operation in home-grown development, social progress and personnel exchanges, delivering tangible benefits to our peoples. China has drawn up plans to provide assistance to Palestine and humanitarian assistance to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Libya and Yemen, as was announced by President Xi. It has trained over 6,000 people of different professions for Arab countries. While encouraging competitive production capacity to go global, China has helped Arab countries build up capacity for home-grown development in light of their need for economic diversification in the Middle East. In this process, China has paid special attention to helping Arab countries improve their people’s lives, which is essential for the local economy. For instance, a Chinese enterprise opened China’s first overseas fibreglass production base in the Suez Economic and Trade co-operation Zone, creating over 2,000 local jobs and making Egypt the largest fibreglass producer in Africa and third largest producer in the world. Arab countries, for their part, have facilitated visits of Chinese nationals to the region. Today, nine Arab countries give visa-free or Visa-upon-landing treatment to Chinese nationals, and 150 passenger flights and 45 cargo flights are run between China and Arab countries every week. As a result, the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in the region is soaring year by year. In the opposite direction, Arabian specialities of premium quality, including long-staple cotton from Egypt, olive oil from Tunisia , chocolate from Lebanon and dates from Gulf Arab countries, have entered Chinese households with the help of e-commerce platforms. The world today is at a critical juncture of major development, transformation and adjustment. China is making big strides on its new journey toward the two centenary goals and showing a stronger commitment to deepening reform on all fronts and opening wider to the world. Likewise, Arab countries have unveiled major initiatives of future-oriented reforms for national rejuvenation. Our development visions are getting more aligned and more complementary, placing China-Arab relations at a new starting point. Under the changing circumstances, we need to work together for a new type of international relations, for a community with a shared future for mankind, and for a peaceful external environment and an equitable world order conducive to our national rejuvenation. At the forthcoming Eighth Ministerial Meeting, China and Arab countries will follow the guidance of our leaders, explore ways to advance future-oriented co-operation centred around the BRI, and further upgrade China-Arab relations. China and Arab countries will become partners in promoting peace and stability. We need to strengthen co-ordination, continue to support each other on issues of major interests and core concerns, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries. We should promote political settlement of hotspot issues and uphold common, comprehensive, co-operative and sustainable security as we strive to restore peace and tranquillity to the Middle East at an early date and do our share in bringing about a world of prosperity and stability. China and Arab countries will become partners in pursuing reform, development and shared prosperity. We need to support each other in exploring development paths tailored to national conditions. We can achieve common progress and development by tapping into the complementarity of our respective strengths and needs, by seeking synergy of our development strategies at a faster pace, and by increasing experience sharing on governance. In our pursuit of development, we must stay committed to a people - centred approach and deliver more benefits to our peoples. China and Arab countries will become partners in conducting practical co-operation for win-win outcomes. We need to follow the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, as we broaden co-operation in infrastructure, aviation satellite and energy and carry out key projects such as ports and industrial parks. China looks forward to signing with more Arab countries the MoU on Belt and Road co-operation to take our practical co-operation to a higher level. China and Arab countries will become partners in championing cultural exchanges and mutual learning. We will encourage more people - to -people exchanges and deepen co-operation in science, education, culture, health and information. By building more bridges for interactions, we will enhance mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples and contribute to the progress of human civilization. A new blueprint brings new hope. A new beginning heralds new achievements. I am convinced that the giant ship of China-Arab friendship and co-operation will ride the wave toward a bright future.

China to synergize development strategies with Saudi Arabia

CGTN - JULY 9, 2018

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday China is willing to synergize development strategies with Saudi Arabia to enhance bilateral pragmatic cooperation in all areas.
China regards Saudi Arabia as a priority in its Middle East diplomacy. Beijing and Riyadh have reached broad consensus on bilateral cooperation in fields such as energy, finance and industrial capacity, said Wang during meeting with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.


‘Arab-Chinese Digital Library’ to be launched in Beijing Tuesday


BEIJING – The Arab League, King Abdulaziz Public Library and the National Library of China are set to launch the "Arab-Chinese Digital Library," here on Tuesday.  which was assigned to King Abdulaziz Public Library to be established The Arab League had assigned King Abdulaziz Public Library to set up the digital library.  The Arab League is a pioneer in promoting joint Arab action and developing Arab libraries. It has achieved numerous successes in the field of employing information technology in the service of Arab culture.  The library’s launch comes on the sidelines of the Arab-Chinese Cooperation Forum here to exchange sources of traditional and non-traditional information.  Director of the Arab-Chinese Digital Library Development Project Dr. Saleh Al-Misnad pointed out that the launch of the library will be an active start for Arab and Chinese cultures in a modern and attractive manner, noting that the library aims to establish the foundations of knowledge and cultural partnership.


Wang Yi: China values the important influence of Egypt

CGTN - 2018-07-09

China values the important influence of Egypt as it is the vital country in both the Arab States and African region, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday.  Wang made the remarks while meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.  Shoukry is here to attend the eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) on July 10. 
China-Egypt strategic partnership 
Wang said that China is glad to see Egypt's social stability and economic development under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi 's leadership.  As the overall strategic partner of Egypt, China would like to deepen the bilateral beneficial cooperation, Wang said, adding that China is willing to solve regional issues and face global challenges with Egypt.


China private refiner buys its first Kuwaiti crude oil cargo

REUTERS - JULY 9, 2018

Shandong Dongming Petrochemical Group, China’s largest private refiner, has bought a 1.9-million barrel cargo of Kuwaiti crude oil for end-July loading, the first of its kind since the plant started importing the commodity in 2015, company officials said on Monday.  * The cargo was of Kuwait Export Blend, one of Kuwait Petroleum Corp’s main export grades, with a sulphur content of 2.5 percent, the officials said.


What to expect from the 8th ministerial meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum?

Xinhua - 2018-07-09

The eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) will be held on July 10 in Beijing.  The CASCF, founded 14 years ago, has facilitated China's cooperation and communication with the Arab states as a whole.  The ministerial meeting is the permanent mechanism of the forum and convenes every two years, with the option for extraordinary sessions if necessary. 
Highlight of opening ceremony  
The opening ceremony of the eighth ministerial meeting is scheduled for July 10 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.  Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the ceremony and deliver a speech, making it his third time to articulate China's policy to the Arab world.    
Xi will elaborate on the Chinese side's view on strengthening the top-level design of Sino-Arab relations, mapping out collective cooperation, and instructing the construction of the CASCF, according to Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong.


Expert analysis: What US trade tariffs on China might mean for GCC markets

Jameel Ahmad 

AME INFO - July 9, 2018

Confirmation in the early hours on 6 July that President Trump has imposed tariffs on Chinese imports is likely to encourage trade war fears. These fears are likely to continue dictating the attention of investors throughout the second half of 2018.  While the UAE and GCC region might appear isolated from the trade tensions between these two super economies, the global market sentiment is being dictated by this headline, which can also have an impact on local markets in the region.  Many spectators have taken this news as a clear step towards entering a trade war. The attention of the world has switched to what China might potentially do next after Beijing reacted to the implementation of trade tariffs by accusing the US of starting “the largest trade war in economic history”.  Anticipation over how Beijing will react or retaliate against the decision from President Trump is likely to be the next question on the minds of investors. It is widely speculated that Beijing might be considering selling US treasuries, while others expect authorities to deliberately devalue the Chinese Yuan.


China-Arab forum to broaden B&R

By Shan Jie

Global Times - 2018/7/9 

Beijing declaration to picture cooperation in trade, regional stability  The eighth ministerial meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) will open in Beijing on Tuesday, during which the two sides are expected to broaden cooperation in the Belt and Road initiative, Chinese experts said.  President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony on Tuesday at Beijing's Great Hall of the People and deliver a speech, which is expected to bring ties between China and Arab states to new heights, Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong told a press briefing on Friday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.  The meeting will gather Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, foreign ministers or other ministerial officials from 21 Arab countries, as well as the secretary general of the Arab League, according to Xinhua.  The main question for the Arab world is that, in terms of development, how to take full and express advantage of the Belt and Road initiative, Wang Jinglie, a research fellow at the Middle East and Africa Research Network told the Global Times on Monday.


China-Arab Cooperation Forum

ASHARQ AL AWSAT - Monday, 9 July, 2018

 Ahmed Abul Gheit Ahmed Abul Gheit is the Secretary General of the Arab League. 

Relations between the Arabs and China are as old as the two ancient civilizations, and are so diverse that they encompass all aspects of human activity from commerce and economy to culture and popular ties.  These deep bonds were preceded by communication between China and the rest of the globe. The Arab-Islamic civilization was in fact the bridge between China and other world civilizations.  It is not surprising, then, that the time that witnessed the flourishing of the Arab-Islamic civilization - from the eighth century onwards - was the same as the apogee of the Chinese civilization, the peak of its glory, and its economic, scientific and human prosperity. This time in Europe was called the “dark Middle Ages”, as it was gloomy in the West and glowing and shining in the East, both among Arabs and Chinese.


Chinese Refiner Stops U.S. Oil Imports, Turns To Iranian Crude By Irina Slav

OIL PRICE - Jul 09, 2018

An independent Chinese refiner has suspended crude oil purchases from the United States and has now turned to Iran as one of its sources of crude, media reports, citing an official from the refiner, Dongming Petrochemical Group.  What’s more, the source said that Beijing is planning to slap tariffs on U.S. crude oil imports and replace them with West African and Middle Eastern crude, including crude from Iran. China has already said that it will not comply with U.S. sanctions against Iran and it seems to be the only country for now in a position to do this.  U.S. crude oil exports to China reached 400,000 bpd at the beginning of this month, but now Beijing is planning to impose a 25-percent tariff on these as part of its retaliation for Trump’s latest round of tariffs on US$34 billion worth of Chinese goods. The retaliation began with tariffs on 545 U.S. goods worth another US$34 billion, but, Reuters reports, the oil tariffs will be announced at a later date.


China and Arab states set to shine together

China Daily | 2018-07-09 

China and Arab states set to shine together China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-09 08:06  Editor's Note: The eighth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum will be held in Beijing on Tuesday. How can China and the Arab states strengthen cooperation? Four experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Liu Jianna. Excerpts follow:  

Sino-Arab relations not only about oil

Li Weijian, a senior fellow at the Center for West Asian and African Studies and Institute for Foreign Policy Studies, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies
It's a misconception that Sino-Arab cooperation is only about oil. As a matter of fact, only a few, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, of the 22 Arab countries and regions export oil to China. The importance of oil in Sino-Arab relations has relatively declined in recent years, because the global energy market has changed from a seller's market to a buyer's market and China has diversified its energy imports.


Destroying Iran deal would have unforeseeable consequences, China's Li warns

Reuters – July 9, 2018
BERLIN (Reuters) - China’s Premier Li Keqiang warned on Monday of unforseeable consequences if a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran were torn up, adding that the nuclear deal should be upheld. He was speaking at a news conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Merkel also expressed her support for the deal, which has been rejected by U.S. President Donald Trump.

China's Xi pledges $20 billion in loans to revive Middle East

REUTERS - JULY 10, 2018

Beijing has ramped up engagement in the Middle East in recent years as Arab nations play an important role in Xi’s signature Belt and Road foreign policy plan for strong trade routes linking China with central and southeast Asia. Development was key to resolving many security problems in the Middle East, Xi told a gathering with representatives of 21 Arab nations in the Chinese capital. “We should treat each other frankly, not fear differences, not avoid problems, and have ample discussion on each aspect of foreign policy and development strategy,” he said.  China would offer aid worth 100 million yuan ($15 million) to Palestine to support economic development, besides providing a further 600 million yuan ($91 million) to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, he added.  A consortium of banks from China and Arab nations, with a dedicated fund of $3 billion, will also be set up, he said.  It was unclear what the relationship between the bank consortium, financial aid and the overall loan package would be. The loans will fund a plan of “economic reconstruction” and “industrial revival” that would include cooperation on oil and gas, nuclear and clean energy, Xi said.  He urged “relevant sides” to respect the international consensus in the Israel-Palestine dispute, and called for it to be handled in a just manner, so as to avoid regional disruption.  China, which traditionally played little role in the Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for energy supplies, has been trying to get more involved in resolving long-standing disputes.  China says it sticks to a policy of “non-interference” when offering financial aid and deals to developing countries, which, coupled with development, can help resolve political, religious and cultural tension.  It applies this pattern of economic support, as well as a strict security regime, to its restive western region of Xinjiang. But rights groups have criticised the approach, saying the clampdown has further stoked, not eased, tension between the Muslim Uighur minority and the ethnic Han majority.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Call for papers: 5th China and The Middle East Conference - May 20-21, 2019 Northwest University, Xi’an

Call for papers: 

5th China and The Middle East Conference

May 20-21, 2019 Northwest University, Xi’an
People’s Republic of China

For more information: tugrulk (at) vt.edu
Great Mosque of Xi'an 

Short documentary of Ramadan in Hui Muslim Community of Xi'an China 

Xi'an, China 

Terracotta Army – Xi’an: 
The greatest archaeological find of the 20th century - BBC News