Sino-Qatari golden age

By Wang Bozun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/17 22:28:40

Qatar eyes stronger bilateral ties with China

Editor's Note:

China and Qatar have enjoyed an excellent relationship. On the occasion of the National Day of the State of Qatar, Global Times reporter Wang Bozun(GT) interviewed the Qatari Ambassador to China, H.E. Sultan S. Almansouri (Sultan), to discuss Sino-Qatari relations, cooperation and regional issues.

"Qatari-Chinese relations at this time in history are at their best, and as my country's ambassador to China, I am very satisfied with the rapid progress in relations between the two countries." - Sultan

Qatari Ambassador to China H.E. Sultan S. Almansouri Photo: Courtesy of Qatari Embassy

 From your point of view, how is China's Belt and Road initiative developing from the Qatar side?

Sultan: Qatar is one of the early countries to support this initiative, and we have signed a memorandum of understanding between the NDRC [National Development and Reform Commission] and Qatar on cooperating bilaterally on this initiative.

Qatar has become a member of the AIIB [Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank], where we will become a leading member of the initiative. In 2015, an offshore RMB [yuan] center was opened in Doha. This center is one of the biggest centers in the region, serving Qatar, the Middle East region and some African countries.

For the last three years, we have been holding a Made in China exhibition in Doha, which is growing every year. This is about gathering major and giant companies to conduct bilateral sorts of agreements in Qatar and the region, and it has been successfully done.

Last year, we completed a very successful cultural year for Qatar and China, with a lot of activities [occurring] between the two countries.

I think this initiative is a [beneficial] one for all Asian countries, and the whole world, and we will keep on supporting it. Qatar will not just be a transit or a station in this initiative, [but will also] play an important role in it.

H.E. Sultan S. Almansouri, Qatari Ambassador to China (left), speaks during the celebration of the National Day of the State of Qatar, on Thursday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Qatar's upcoming five-year plan places more importance on non-oil sectors such as manufacturing, technology, financial services and logistics. Is there any room for potential cooperation in these fields between China and Qatar?

Sultan: Qatar now is concentrating more on investment. We hold investment authority, which is one of the biggest investment authorities in the world. And we know that China is a very stable market, and a very tempting market with less risk factors, so I think it is very tempting for Qatar to come and invest in technology, education and infrastructure, I think these are the most important things.

[In terms of technology], China is a big technology producer, and it's very important to cooperate with Chinese companies that produce technology.

Qatar has undergone a diplomatic crisis with Gulf countries, which could bring a negative impact on regional collaboration in many fields. Could you briefly talk about this crisis and is Qatar seeking more cross-regional cooperation with other countries? 

Sultan: We woke up on the morning of June 5 and realized that Qatar had been blocked by its neighboring countries, which was obviously very astonishing to us. Why [did this happen]? And what was the cause of it? So far, all those blockade countries have not come up with reasonable reasons.

The international community knows that Qatar has made very significant contributions to counterterrorism and is cooperating with other countries to ensure stability and security in the region and world at large. We play a very important role in that. And Qatar has been an active member of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council].

The blockade has been there for almost seven months, which we believe came from nothing, without any proved evidence. In fact, all accusations [against Qatar] are groundless and fake. However, Qatar has managed to overcome this. If you have a blockade in air, land and sea, obviously your neighbors are trying to suffocate you, and obviously you need to find alternatives to get your resources from and to approach other countries.

Everything is now almost settled and life in Qatar is returning back to normal situations. I hope our brother neighbors can realize that their measures and blockade were based on false accusations.  

GT: In September, Qatar and China signed a memorandum of understanding that formalized joint efforts to curb funding to terrorist groups and increased coordination against terrorism in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific. Could you elaborate on the significance of this cooperation?

Sultan: Qatar has supported all international efforts regarding counterterrorism. In fact, we are the first country in the region to sign bilateral relations with the US on counterterrorism and exchanging information [related to the subject].

The memorandum of understanding, which was signed in September this year between the State of Qatar and China's MPS [Ministry of Public Security] to address security issues, is a very important one, as I look at it from our side, because it brings two countries on the same track to exchange information, especially on security and counterterrorism.

Terrorism is not affecting any country individually; it is starting to spread all over the world. We need to be united against it, and we need to implement key measures and effective solutions to overcome and counter it.

I hope with this memorandum of understanding, we will exchange all information between Qatar and China regarding security issues and counterterrorism, as well as exchanging experiences and expertise in the field.

GT: US President Donald Trump's Jerusalem move has caused large-scale protest from the Arab world, causing huge uncertainty for this region's future. Could you explain how the move will impact the Middle East?

Sultan: Absolutely, it has already impacted. It has already put the peace agreement onto a blocked path. I think this decision will bring the situation back to where it was before the peace negotiation and will bring more tension to the region.

The decision is being completely rejected by all Arab and Muslim countries, because it has been taken only from one side.

On Wednesday [December 13], the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) leaders summit in Istanbul rejected the decision, and asked the US to withdraw it, to continue supporting the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis and to end with a fair conclusion with a decision on the two-state solution. 

GT: The Chinese Foreign Ministry recently said that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China always pays attention to peace, stability and development in the Middle East. It has been reported that China's influence in the Middle East is increasing. What is your take on China's role in the region?

Sultan: China and Arab states have maintained very close relations and cooperation. The Silk Road passes through the Middle East and Arab countries, which have [ever since] developed historical relations [with China].

It is very important that China keeps close contact with Arab states and discusses and works with them to develop [better] relations and to increase [better] understanding of each other. And I am sure this is [already] going on.

The last visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Middle East was a historical visit and brought back the role of China to the region, as it used to be.

China has continued to play a very positive role in all the crises and problems in the Middle East. We are [currently] trying to bring a solution [for the regional crisis and problems] to the table rather than take a solution away from the table. This is always what China asks for, and insists on doing.



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