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UAE aspires to join China's belt and road initiative

Updated: 2015-06-29 14:11

ABU DHABI -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is very interested in China's "Belt and Road" initiative, and would like to join Beijing in promoting their strategic partnership to even higher levels, said China's envoy to the country.

Chang Hua, Chinese ambassador to UAE, made the remarks during a recent interview with Xinhua in the Arab nation's capital.

He said that while China's has been trying to promote its belt and road initiative, the UAE has also put forward a plan to rejuvenate the ancient business route.

Chang also said Beijing's efforts in opening up westward coincide with Abu Dhabi's looking-east policy, and that would strongly boost their pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the belt and road initiative.

Over the past 30-plus years since the establishment of China-UAE diplomatic ties, the two countries have constantly deepened their friendly cooperation in politics, trade, as well as culture and people-to-people exchanges.

In 2012, the two nations officially became strategic partners, and their cooperation since then has never been stronger. For many years, UAE has stayed as China's second largest trading partner and top commodity importer in West Asia and North Africa.

Last year, the two nations' bilateral trade volume reached as high as $54.8 billion, a new record. Meanwhile, the two nations' cooperation in energy, investment, finance, aviation and tourism has been rather fruitful.

The belt and road initiative was first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. It is aimed at reviving the ancient trade routes that span Asia, Africa and Europe.

The Chinese leader first floated the idea of an economic corridor during a visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013.

He then proposed an economic belt of improved infrastructure along the main strands of what, centuries ago, was the network of land routes used by silk traders and others to carry merchandise to and from China through Central Asia and Russia to northern Europe.

A month later, in Indonesia, he also put forward a maritime route that would stretch from south China to Southeast Asia, and even to Africa.

Over the past few months, the initiative has been given a real push. China has earmarked $40 billion for a Silk Road Fund to support infrastructure projects along both routes.

In his keynote speech delivered at the 6th ministerial conference of the China-Arab cooperation forum, President Xi, in a bid to encourage the Arab nations to play a crucial part in implementing the belt and road initiative, told the participants that the Arab nations are China's natural partners in materializing the proposal.

"The UAE boasts unique advantages in terms of geographic location and capital. The country is also stable and secure, with advanced infrastructure and complete legal system," said the envoy,

adding that "these special conditions have made UAE China's key partner in their joint endeavor to carrying out the initiative."

According to the Chinese ambassador, Beijing and Abu Dhabi has already made evident progress gas and oil cooperation, while the Chinese firms have also won the bid for airport and seaport projects in the country. He also noted that the two countries are also going to co-launch a joint investment fund.

Meanwhile, the two sides are also complementary in technologies and industrial capacity, while their cooperation still has great potential, he said.

"It is believed that, by coming together, the two countries will definitely make great progress in pushing forward the belt and road initiative, further promote common development and prosperity, and benefit the two peoples," Chang said.

Speaking of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Chinese ambassador said UAE has already joined the bank as one of the total 57 founding members this April.

He said UAE's move has fully demonstrated its confidence in the newly-born international financial institution, adding that it is also a product of the two nations' strategic partnership, as well as their intensive emphasis on spurring development of the developing economies and improving infrastructure.

The China-sponsored bank is designed to finance infrastructure construction in Asia. It will have authorized capital of $100 billion and the initial subscribed capital is expected to be around $50 billion.

The Beijing-based bank is expected to be officially doing business at the end of 2015.

Chang also noted that while Asia has seen a increasingly expanding economy and growing population, the continent urgently needs to upgrade its infrastructure.

Yet according to the Asian Development Bank, all economies in the region need at least $8,000 billion between 2010 and 2020 to reach the world average. However, that is a task the world' s existing financial bodies can hardly accomplish.

The Chinese ambassador said with the creation of the AIIB, the tremendous fund gap is not going to be a problem for Asian nations to build roads and bridges.

Chang also said that the UAE has rich experience in infrastructure construction, and its participation in the bank will not only grow its own economic prowess, but also help the fledgling institution with its own development.

In answering questions regarding the China-proposed notion of "community of common destiny," the Chinese diplomat said the idea has shown China's hope for peace and development, and will serve as the guidelines for Beijing's diplomatic conduct.

In recent years, the Middle East region has been plagued by bloody violence and terrorism. Chang said that by upholding such a notion, China will play an active role in helping restore peace and tranquility in the Middle East at an early date.

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