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Image Credit: WAM

ABU DHABI: China and the UAE are enjoying their "best period" in history now while celebrating a milestone in their relationship, according to a top Chinese diplomat.

"This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE. Our relationship is currently at its best period in history," Ni Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE, told the Emirates News Agency, WAM, in an exclusive interview.

Among all Middle East countries, the UAE has the deepest, broadest and most fruitful cooperation with China, he said.

State visit

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will be on a state visit to China next week, almost one year after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s successful visit to the UAE.

"The exchange of visits between our top leaderships within a year is testimony to the high standards and special significance of China-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, thus marking a milestone in the development of our bilateral relationship," he explained.

"The upcoming visit by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed is expected to consolidate and deepen our political and strategic mutual trust, and elevate our political, military, commercial, cultural, people-to-people and technological cooperation across the board," the ambassador said.

It will further substantiate the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to open "a glorious new chapter of China-UAE friendship," he said.

Joint initiatives

The ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping synergises with the "Restore the Silk Road" vision proposed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, the envoy said.

"Jointly building the Belt and Road is in line with the UAE’s interests and brings opportunities and momentum to our respective development. As an important regional transport hub and financial and trade centre, the UAE has a pivotal role to play to extend China’s cooperation with the Gulf and Middle East States and facilitate interconnectivity," he explained.

About the thriving cultural and people-to-people exchanges, the diplomat said, over 1.1 million Chinese tourists had visited the UAE in 2018, thanks to the mutual visa-exemption arrangement between both nations.

"There are over 150 commercial flights every week connecting different cities in our countries," he added.

The educational exchanges are burgeoning under 'The UAE Youth Ambassadors Programme' that facilitates Emirati students’ visit to China, and China Scholarship Council’s Memorandum of Understanding with Khalifa University that brings "more and more Chinese students" to pursue their higher education in the UAE, the ambassador explained.

Confucius Institutes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, an ongoing initiative to teach Chinese in 200 UAE schools and frequent visits of Chinese artist groups to the UAE have also enhanced cultural and educational relations.

"Our plan to open a Chinese Cultural Centre in the UAE is in progress," the envoy said.

Largest Chinese community in the Middle East

The UAE hosts the largest Chinese community in the Middle East. Of over 200,000-strong Chinese community in the UAE, most of them live in Dubai and Sharjah. Around 50 community organisations cater to the community members from all walks of life.

"They have forged a profound friendship with locals, and made great contributions to the UAE’s economic development with their perseverance and pioneering spirit," the ambassador said.

About the regional developments, he said, "China is concerned over the tensions in the Gulf region. We hope relevant parties will remain calm, exercise restraint, take concrete measures to prevent escalation, and jointly uphold maritime safety and security in relevant straits, as well as peace and stability in the region."

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an influential major country, China has all along maintained communication and coordination with countries in the region and other major countries to ease tensions in the Gulf region, Jian said.

Peace and stability

The Gulf region is of great significance to international energy supply and global security and stability, he pointed out.

"We are working to play our role and contribute to upholding peace and stability in the Gulf region," he said.

China regrets Iran's decision to further scale back its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, the envoy said.

"It is our consistent belief that complete and effective implementation of the JCPOA according to the requirements of the United Nations Security Council Resolution, UNSCR, is the only viable way to ease tensions and solve the Iranian nuclear issue. It will also help create conditions for resolving other issues through equal-footed dialogue," the diplomat explained.

"Under the current circumstances, parties should remain calm and exercise restraint and adhere to dialogue under the framework of the JCPOA. The international community must adhere to multilateralism and the international order based on international law, and seek political and diplomatic solutions to relevant issues through equal-footed dialogue," he said.