China, UAE move to promote robust cooperation and economic growth in the new era
Robust cooperation built on thousands of years of trust and friendship: ambassador
Published: Jun 06, 2024 03:44 PM

Aerial view of Dubai, United Arab Emirates Photo: CFP

Aerial view of Dubai, United Arab Emirates Photo: CFP

The 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the People's Republic of China is an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved while confidently looking forward to the future accomplishments our partnership promises to bring.

This milestone is not only a testament to the enduring friendship between our two nations, but also a symbol of our shared commitment to fostering international cooperation and economic exchange.

Following the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1984, a milestone in the journey of UAE-China relations came in 1990 when the UAE's Founding Father and first President the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became the first head of state from a Gulf Cooperation Council nation to hold an official visit to China. His visit set the stage for our countries to develop a multifaceted relationship based on shared interests and aims. 

This vibrant partnership has continued to deliver benefits to both nations, as evidenced by the signing of more than 130 bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) over the past 40 years. During the recent state visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to China, the UAE and China inked 19 agreements and MoUs in some key sectors to boost investments in tourism, industry, technology, media, and the Belt and Road Initiative, among others. This is a testament to the ever-strengthening ties and the mutual commitment to expanding our collaborative efforts in various strategic areas.

Last week's state visit to China by UAE President is a further step along the path of partnership and offers yet more opportunities to bolster UAE-China relations.

Our relationship with China, however, dates back much further than four decades. It spans thousands of years, going back to the days of the ancient Silk Road - the historical trade route that not only facilitated the exchange of goods but also enabled the sharing of ideas, cultures, and innovations. 

This famed corridor brought numerous benefits to China and other communities along the route, including throughout our region.

While commemorating this history of cooperation, the UAE has become an engaged participant in the Silk Road's modern-day equivalent, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which is further strengthening economic partnerships, helping to foster new linkages, and cultivating collaboration across borders and cultures.

The fruits of these flourishing ties can be seen in the growing numbers of youth and adults attending Chinese language classes in the UAE, the burgeoning opportunities for students from the UAE to pursue their higher education in China, and the numerous initiatives aimed at fostering closer ties between the peoples of both nations, including through bodies such as the China Cultural Center in the United Arab Emirates.

UAE Ambassador to China Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi Photo: Courtesy of UAE Embassy

UAE Ambassador to China Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi Photo: Courtesy of UAE Embassy

Flourishing economic ties

It is evident that our relationship with China has grown exponentially into the robust and multifaceted Comprehensive Strategic Partnership we maintain today. In 2023, the volume of non-oil trade between our nations increased by 12 percent, reaching an impressive $80.6 billion. 

This significant growth underscores the dynamic economic partnership that has developed between our countries. The UAE has made substantial investments in China, amounting to $11.4 billion between 2003 and 2022, in key sectors such as real estate, financial services, green energy, and transportation. Chinese investment into the UAE during the same period stood at $6.9 billion, highlighting the reciprocal nature of our economic relations.

Economic cooperation between the UAE and China is not merely about trade and investment; it is about building a resilient and interconnected future. We are committed to leveraging our resources and expertise to support each other's growth and development, and this includes partnerships related to clean energy and innovative low-carbon technologies that reinforce our journey towards a sustainable future. This mutual support is clear in the strategic partnerships we have forged, aimed at enhancing infrastructure and industrial capacities in both countries.

Moreover, the UAE and China share a deep-rooted commitment to strengthening international cooperation for the greater good of humanity. Our participation within organizations such as the United Nations and the BRICS group of nations is guided by a shared vision of a more equitable and prosperous world. Through our work together in these fora, we promote dialogue, encourage greater consensus, and ensure fair representation of all voices while addressing global issues that affect us all, including climate change, sustainable development, and peace-building. 

Graphic: Zhen Tao/GT

Graphic: Zhen Tao/GT

At the 10th ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing last week, both countries took further steps to strengthen ties of multilateral engagement and communication. The UAE firmly believes in the importance of building bridges to stand up for stability - whether these are between east and west, or the Global South and North - and we are confident that in China we have a partner that shares the same aims.

In this era of unprecedented global challenges, the UAE, under the leadership of President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, maintains a clear stance on priority issues: We will continue to advocate for a multilateral approach to problem-solving; we emphasise the importance of dialogue and mutual respect; and we believe in the power of partnerships to drive innovation, foster economic resilience, and promote peace. Ultimately, our collaboration with China demonstrates how nations can work together to achieve common goals.

As we celebrate this significant anniversary, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Chinese government and people for their unwavering friendship and cooperation with the UAE. Links that were established thousands of years ago and cultivated over the past four decades resulted in the robust relations between the UAE and China today. We remain confident that our partnership will continue to thrive into the near and distant future, bringing greater prosperity and stability to our nations, our peoples, and the world.

The author is the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to China