View on the new silk road National Highway 35 or China-Pakistan Friendship Highway. Image Credit: Agency

Dubai: The leadership of the UAE has always been forthcoming in playing an important role in important infrastructure development and humanitarian projects to benefit the world.

The latest example is the UAE’s response to cooperate with the China on its “Belt and Road project” commonly known as Silk Road initiative. The UAE’s participation in this project will give a massive boost to China’s mega initiative involving around 100 countries.

The UAE and China on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) concerning joint cooperation on the Silk Road Initiative and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative.

The MoU was signed by Dr Sultan Bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and He Lifeng, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in China, during the landmark state visit of President Xi Jinping of China to the UAE. It will contribute to facilitating exchange and integration of commodities, technology and capital through mutual education and cooperation.

The MoU is an indicator of the strong ties between the UAE and China and underscores the commitment of leaderships in both friendly countries to further consolidate their joint action to serve mutual interests and interests of the region and the world as well. The MoU reflects the long-standing friendship between the UAE and China as well as cooperation and ambition of the governments in several fields.

It will also advance concerted development and joint progress in areas of economy, community, environment and other sectors.

The agreement underscores the political will of the Emirati and Chinese leaderships to jointly promote the Belt and Road Initiative with the aim of elevating the spirt of the Silk Road for peace, openness and mutual education and cooperation in a manner that serves mutual interests.

Chinese exports to UAE

The MoU will further boost trade link between the UAE and China as the UAE already plays a vital role as a distribution point for 60 per cent of Chinese exports to the region.

Since the 2015 visit by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to China and the subsequent signing of strategic agreements between the two countries, UAE’s trade with China witnessed a surge to $70 million annually

By signing the MoU, the UAE has responded positively to Chinese President Xi who said that it is not his country’s business alone. “It should also welcome other countries to board China’s express train of development, and help them realise their own development objectives.”

Belt and Road Initiative also known as One Belt One Road is being spearheaded by China and involves massive network of railroads and shipping lanes linking itself with around 70 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. The main focus in infrastructure development including transportation and energy.

In this project, the “belt” is composed of land routes and recreating of an old Silk Road land route running from China to Scandinavia and the Middle East while the “road” is not actually a road, but a route through various oceans connecting China to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The first ever Silk Road was established during the Han dynasty, beginning around 130BC. In 2013, President Xi Jinping announced that the Silk Road would be reborn as the Belt and Road Initiative — known as the most ambitious and the most expensive infrastructure project the world has ever known.