Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Sheikh Mohamed: UAE and China creating 100-year 'road map' to boost alliance

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi strengthens ties with Beijing on his three-day visit

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said the UAE and China are creating a "road map" for a century of prosperity as he concluded a landmark three-day visit to Beijing.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces said his talks with President Xi Jinping served to strengthen a bond built between the Middle East and the East Asia, dating back thousands of years.

Sheikh Mohamed offered an optimistic vision for the future after attending a UAE-China youth symposium hosted by Tsinghua University in Beijing on Tuesday, in which young people expressed their intentions to build on the relations between the countries.

"I followed with interest the UAE-China youth symposium, an event which reflects the importance of dialogue among young people from diverse cultures," Sheikh Mohamed said.

"By investing in education, we believe that youth are our best hope. Pioneers who will play an influential role in the future.

"The truth is that our relations didn't begin 35 years ago only, but they started with our Arab ancestors. Our history extends back thousands of years.

"During our visits and meetings with my friend Xi Jinping, President of China, we have been able to strengthen special and strategic relations to build bridges of co-operation between the two countries."

Sheikh Mohamed added that "the two sides are laying pillars of a road map for the next 100 years, beginning with steps to teach the Chinese language in more than 200 schools in the UAE".

Sheikh Mohamed was welcomed at the Great Hall of the People on Monday as a 21-gun salute was fired, before he inspected a guard of honour formed to mark his arrival.

Sheikh Mohamed spoke glowingly of the bonds between the UAE and China, forged in great part by the Founding Father Sheikh Zayed's landmark visit in 1990.

After reflecting on the past, the two leaders looked to the future.

Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Xi witnessed the signing of 16 agreements in the fields of economy, oil and environment.

In a tweet, Sheikh Mohamed wrote the deals were aimed at "developing co-operation and a comprehensive strategic partnership, as well as opening new horizons for joint action in various sectors".

Among the agreements was a deal signed between Dubai's Emaar Properties with Beijing Daxing International Airport to implement a $11 billion (Dh40.5 bn) project including residential and leisure facilities across a 5 square kilometre area at the airport.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) also signed an agreement with state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation to explore collaborations with the world’s largest oil importer.

China is one of the UAE's largest trading partners, continuing with the 2,000-years-old exchange, when merchants first voyaged between China and the Arab world, along the ancient Silk Road.

Cultivating trade from the Middle East to the Far East remains high on the agenda of both nations even today.

The UAE is an integral part of Mr Xi's Belt and Road initiative, combining a land "economic belt" and a "maritime silk road" to link China with South-East, South and Central Asia, the Arabian Gulf, North Africa, and Europe.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the visit would go down as a "milestone moment" in relations between the two countries and added that the UAE would become a "shining pearl" in the Belt and Road programme.

The Crown Prince has returned to the Emirates as an honorary professor of one of China's prestigious universities.

He received the title from Tsinghua University in Beijing as a recognition of his support for science and technology.

"I was delighted to visit Tsinghua University where I met its outstanding management team and students," Sheikh Mohamed wrote on Twitter.

"The university plays a prominent role in promoting quality education, scientific research and supports the progress of China and the development of mankind."

As part of ongoing efforts to nurture bilateral relations for generations to come, Chinese language courses will be taught at 60 schools across the UAE from September, the Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday.

The ministry has launched a drive to recruit 150 Chinese language teachers for the programme, which will be rolled out over the next three years.

Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, signed an agreement on the curriculum during the state visit.

The programme is meant to to meet the "growing interest among Emirati people to understand Chinese language and culture", state news agency Wam reported.

More than 200,000 Chinese people live in the Emirates, with about 6,000 of the country's businesses operating here.

Concerted efforts have also been made in recent years to make travel between the nations easier.

In 2018, China exempted UAE nationals from having to obtain pre-entry visas, with the possibility of staying for up to 30 days on each visit.

Sheikh Mohamed wrapped up his trip by visiting the Monument to the People's Heroes at Tiananmen Square.

Updated: July 31, 2019 06:50 PM

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