BEIJING // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, arrived in the Chinese capital yesterday afternoon to begin a three-day trip that will include talks with several of China's most senior figures.
Flying in from a nuclear security summit in Seoul at the invitation of China's vice president, Xi Jinping, Sheikh Mohammed is holding discussions with Mr Xi as well as with the premier, Wen Jiabao, and the chief legislator, Wu Bangguo.
Today Sheikh Mohammed will reopen an Arabic language teaching centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University that has been refurbished with funds from the Court of the Crown Prince.
The centre, to be renamed the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Centre for Arabic Language and Islamic Studies, was opened in 1994 as the UAE Centre for the Study of Islamic Culture and the Teaching of the Arabic Language after being built with money from the UAE. Sheikh Mohammed last visited China in August 2009, also at the invitation of Mr Xi, and held discussions with Mr Wen and Hu Jintao, the president, among others.
The UAE is China's second-largest trading partner in the Middle East, with bilateral trade having grown on average by more than a third each year for the past decade, reaching about US$35 billion (Dh128.6 billion) last year, more than three-quarters of it Chinese exports to the Emirates.
Two months ago, Mr Wen visited the UAE, while this month a Confucius Institute, which teaches the Chinese language, opened at Zayed University's Khalifa City campus in Abu Dhabi.