x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Oil pact is centrepiece of China trip

Strategic co-operation between China and the UAE has taken "major strides" following a visit by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, say officials.

On a tour of the Forbidden City, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, second from left, meets Gao Yusheng, China's ambassador to the UAE, left. Khaldoun Khalifa al Mubarak, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority, third from left, and Mohammad Ahmad al Bowardi, Secretary General of the Executive Council, accompanied Sheikh Mohammed.
On a tour of the Forbidden City, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, second from left, meets Gao Yusheng, China's ambassador to the UAE, left. Khaldoun Khalifa al Mubarak, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority, third from left, and Mohammad Ahmad al Bowardi, Secretary General of the Executive Council, accompanied Sheikh Mohammed.

BEIJING // Strategic co-operation between China and the UAE has taken "major strides" following a visit by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, say officials. Talks between Sheikh Mohammed and China's President Hu Jintao yielded agreements on topics ranging from culture to defence.

At the forefront of the diplomatic efforts was a deal between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and China National Petroleum Corporation, in which the two firms agreed to work together in petrochemical industries and exchange oil projects. China-UAE trade in general has increased more than 40 per cent over the last year, buoyed mainly by demand for oil. Specific projects, such as building oil storage facilities in Singapore, would be mutually beneficial, both leaders agreed. A senior government official said such a facility would help address swiftly changing demand among consumers in Asia, especially Japan and South Korea.

"When you have an increase in production you actually want to store in a place where you can quickly execute and sell the product to the delivery spot," he said. "You see the volatility of the prices today ... this is catering to that [demand] as quickly as possible." General relations were addressed as well during the two-day visit, which ended on Friday. Sheikh Mohammed renewed an invitation by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, to President Hu and other senior Chinese officials to visit the UAE.

Sheikh Mohammed also confirmed the UAE's commitment to its "one China policy", which states that the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government of mainland China, Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. But he reiterated the importance of an open society, pointing to riots that broke out in May along China's western frontier. "Tolerance, openness and understanding are critical to ongoing stability in all regions of the world, as is respect for the law," Sheikh Mohammed said. "After all, non-violence and understanding are essential elements of the Islamic faith."

President Hu said his country was keen to enhance economic and political ties with the rest of the GCC. He promised to "actively consult" with the Gulf states "for early consensus on signing a free-trade pact", according to Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency. The two leaders reiterated that co-operation on all fronts would be a "strategic step for the future". Other important agreements reached during Sheikh Mohammed's trip:

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Wu Dawei, the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister, signed a pact to facilitate political talks. Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Heritage Authority, and China's Minister of Culture, Cai Wu, established a strategic relationship in the areas of art, culture and exhibitions. Major Gen Esa Saif al Mazrouei of the UAE Armed Forces and the director of China's Commission for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence signed a deal on enhancing military co-operation and exchange of experience in military industries.

Representatives of the China North Industries Corporation and the UAE's International Golden Group also signed a co-operation agreement. Sheikh Mohammed also expressed hope, as the UAE celebrates winning its bid to be home to the International Renewable Energy Agency, that UAE and Chinese firms would work together on renewable energy. Outside the diplomatic talks, Sheikh Mohammed toured landmarks and industrial facilities around Beijing with an eye towards seeing how factory complexes - one of them employing 150,000 people - dealt with energy and recycling.

Last year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, visited China as the head of a delegation. @Email:mhabboush@thenational.ae