His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, greets Xi Jinping, President of China at the Great Hall of the People during a state visit to China in 2015. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

It’s been 35 years since the UAE and China established diplomatic relations and this is a diplomatic blueprint that has blossomed into a very deep and special bond between the peoples. That special relationship enters an even deeper phase with the announced visit this week to China of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

During the state visit, Sheikh Mohammed and Chinese President Xi Jinping will review the comprehensive strategic cooperation between the two nations across multiple sectors, and will also discuss regional and international issues of mutual concern between the UAE and Beijing. As Ni Jian, China’s ambassador to the UAE noted last week: “Our relationship is currently at its best period in history.” Those words reflect the high level of mutual respect and cooperation between the two partners — with the UAE having the deepest, broadest and most fruitful ties with China of any other country in the Middle East or North Africa.

In real terms, the Belt and Road Initiative is bringing economic benefits, trade and prosperity to both the UAE and China as they expand on long-established trade, commercial and economic links. More than 1.1 million tourists from China visited the UAE last year, and there are some 150 direct flights between the two countries each week.

Cultural ties are thriving, the UAE is home to the largest Chinese community in the Middle East. As His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, noted during his state visit to China in April, trade and economic activity between the two nations will reach $70 billion (Dh257 billion) by 2020.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed’s visit from Sunday is a testament to these close strategic, economic and security ties between China and the UAE. It will also clearly show the unity of outlook shared by the leadership of both nations.

The timing of the visit, now when there are reasons to be concerned over the impact of Iran’s actions in interfering with global trade and energy traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, is not insignificant. The UAE and China will continue to work closely together to promote international peace and security, renouncing extremism, combating terrorism and resolving conflicts through diplomatic and effective channels.

The UAE and its strategic location as a pivot between east and west, north and south, makes for an ideal trading partner with China, the world second-largest economic power — and long may this special relationship continue to prosper.