Communiqué of the Third Ministerial Meeting of The China-Arab Cooperation Forum
23 May 2008
Foreign ministers of the People's Republic of China and member states of the League of Arab States (hereinafter referred to as "the two sides") and Secretary General of the League of Arab States attended the third ministerial meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum (hereinafter referred to as "the Forum") in Manama, the capital of the Kingdom of Bahrain, on 21-22 May 2008.
The two sides hailed the remarkable progress made in forging a new type of partnership of equality and all-round cooperation in recent years. They reviewed the various activities carried out within the Forum framework since the second ministerial meeting, and noted with satisfaction the outcome in institution building and running of major events such as the Senior Officials Committee, the China-Arab Business Conference, the Seminar on China-Arab Relations and China-Arab Civilization Dialogue, China-Arab environmental cooperation, the China-Arab Friendship Conference, the China-Arab Energy Conference and the China-Arab Press Cooperation Seminar. They resolved to add further substance to China-Arab cooperation and push forward the development of the Forum.
The two sides hold that the world today is undergoing major transformation and adjustment and that peace, development and cooperation are the trend of the times. With the deepening of economic globalization, countries are becoming increasingly interdependent. They need to work together to explore opportunities while warding off risks. Traditional security threats remain prominent and the pressure of non-traditional security threats is mounting. There is an urgent need for closer cooperation and collective actions by the international community.
The two sides stressed that closer dialogue and cooperation and upgrading of China-Arab ties in the new era serve the common interests of the people in China and Arab countries and peace and development in the world.
To this end, the two sides have decided to further strengthen the new type of China-Arab partnership featuring equality, mutual trust and all-round cooperation for peace and sustainable development. They have reached the following common understanding:
I. Political Field
1. The two sides reaffirmed the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence. They call for greater democracy in international relations and the building of a harmonious world. They respect efforts of all countries to safeguard their territorial integrity and security without violating the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and other universally recognized norms of international law.
2. The two sides agreed to increase mutual visits and exchanges between leaders and government officials to forge closer ties and promote friendship and mutual trust.
3. The two sides agreed to promote inter-parliamentary and inter-party exchanges as well as exchanges between non-governmental organizations to increase mutual understanding and deepen traditional friendship.
4. The two sides agreed to maintain political consultations between their foreign ministries and collective consultations within the Forum framework.
5. The Arab countries extended sympathy and condolences to the Chinese side over the heavy losses of life and property caused by the earthquake in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province of the People's Republic of China. They also commended the Chinese Government and people for their disaster relief and reconstruction efforts. The Chinese Government and people appreciate and welcome the compassion, support and assistance of the Arab countries and people. The Arab countries expressed their support for Beijing's hosting of the 2008 Games of the XXIX Olympiad and wished the Games a great success.
6. The Arab countries reiterated that the Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. They oppose any attempt by the Taiwan authorities to join, in whatever name or form, the United Nations and other international organizations and conferences whose membership requires statehood. They support the Chinese Government and people in their efforts to promote peace and development in cross-Strait relations.
7. China supports the strategic choice of the Arab countries to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, the "Land for Peace" principle, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Middle East Roadmap for Peace. It supports the Arab Peace Initiative and regards it as an important principle guiding the comprehensive solution to the Middle East issue. China calls on Israel to respond to the aspiration for peace of Arab countries, conduct negotiations with relevant Arab countries on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative and end the occupation of all the Arab land taken since 1967. China supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian State in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and the settlement of the refugee issue in accordance with relevant UN resolutions to restore the legitimate rights and interests of the Arab people and achieve comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. China calls on the international community to work for the lifting of blockade against Palestine. Credible measures should be taken to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and settlement construction and all other activities that may aggravate tension should be stopped so as to create an enabling environment for the Middle East peace process to move ahead.
8. The two sides stressed their support for Syria's efforts to regain the occupied Golan Heights on the basis of the principles of the peace process and in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, the outcome of the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
9. The two sides emphasized their full backing to Lebanon and offered Lebanon political and economic support. The two sides extended warm congratulations to H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, H.E. Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, H.E. Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, and members of the Arab Ministerial Committee, through whose concerted efforts the Lebanese National Dialogue Conference in Doha produced a solution through consensus on the basis of the Arab initiative concerning settlement of the political crisis in Lebanon.
10. The two sides stressed the need of full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, non-interference in Iraq's internal affairs and respect for the right of the Iraqi people to decide on their own future. They condemn all forms of terrorist activities targeted at the Iraqi people and agencies. The two sides support the Iraqi Government in its efforts to stabilize the security situation and advance the process of national reconciliation, and encourage cooperation on Iraqi reconstruction. They welcome the role of the Arab League and efforts to look for necessary mechanisms to settle the current problems in Iraq through international cooperation channels such as the Expanded Ministerial Conference of the Neighboring Countries of Iraq. They call on Iraq and its neighbors to address each other's concerns.
11. The two sides stressed their support for all peace efforts aimed at peacefully settling the issue of the three islands (Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa) through peaceful negotiation in accordance with the norms of international law, including the initiative and efforts of the United Arab Emirates.
12. The two sides stressed their support for national unity, solidarity and territorial integrity of Sudan. They support the Government of National Unity of Sudan in its efforts to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and press ahead with the north-south peace process. They welcome the signing of the Status of Forces Agreement on 9 February 2008 and the efforts made by the Sudanese Government to ensure success of the hybrid mission. The two sides emphasized that hybrid forces should be deployed in Darfur according to Security Council Resolution 1769. They support the tripartite consultation mechanism comprising Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations to continue its leading role. The two sides call for parallel progress in the peacekeeping operation and the political process in Darfur. They also call on rebel groups and the Sudanese Government to speed up negotiation and reach a comprehensive peace agreement for Darfur at an early date. The two sides support the important role of the Arab League on this issue and condemn the attack on Um Durman by the Justice and Equality Movement.
13. The two sides emphasized the importance of promoting the peace process in Somalia to regional security and stability. They respect national unity and sovereignty of Somalia, and support Somalia in its efforts to achieve national reconciliation and peace at an early date.
14. The two sides support each other's efforts to safeguard sovereignty, national independence and dignity, respect and support each other's independent choice of development paths in line with their respective national conditions, and agreed to exchange experiences on governance and development.
15. The two sides stressed that they attach great importance to promoting friendship between the National People's Congress of China and the Arab Parliament, Shura, and the Arab Interim Parliament on the basis of the purposes and principles of the Forum.
16. The two sides agreed to conduct political consultation and strengthen coordination and cooperation on major regional and international issues of common interest within the Forum framework.
17. The two sides call for dialogue and consultation and encourage political and peaceful settlement of hotspot issues and differences.
18. The two sides support the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and call for a peaceful solution of the nuclear issue in the Middle East through diplomatic negotiations in the interest of regional peace and stability. They support the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East and the efforts made by Arab countries to achieve this goal at an early date through consultation. The two sides hold that the rights of all countries to peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should be respected and upheld. They oppose any attempt to acquire or develop nuclear capabilities for military purposes in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
19. The two sides condemn terrorism in all its forms and oppose the practice of linking terrorism with any individual ethnic group or religion. They believe that the fight against terrorism must be based on the UN Charter and other universally-recognized norms of international law. The United Nations and its Security Council should play a leading and coordinating role, and double standards must not be adopted. The two sides support the proposal raised by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, at the Counter-Terrorism International Conference in Riyadh in 2005 to set up an international center to combat terrorism. They welcome and support the proposal by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali that the UN hold an international conference to develop norms on combating terrorism for all parties to observe and promote dialogue among religions, cultures and civilizations. Counter-terrorism cooperation should be strengthened in the bilateral fields and in multilateral fora such as the UN. To that end, the two sides support an international conference hosted by the UN and attended by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other international organizations to discuss ways to define, prevent and combat terrorism, and call on all parties to conclude the negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at an early date.
20. The two sides agreed to step up dialogue and cooperation within the UN and other international organizations to promote multilateralism and uphold the UN's authority and its leading role in international affairs. They support necessary and appropriate reforms of the UN to improve its efficiency, fulfill its mission as enshrined in the UN Charter, and enhance its preparedness to respond to new threats and challenges. They support the Security Council in playing a major role in upholding world peace and security. Security Council reform should give priority to increasing the representation of developing countries, and should be based on consensus among member states through extensive discussion and democratic consultation.
21. The two sides hold that countries should reach common understanding and resolve differences through dialogue and diplomatic means to break the barriers to improvement of state-to-state relations. They oppose putting domestic legislation of any individual country above the norms of international law for the purpose of undermining the sovereignty and interests of other countries.
II. Promotion of Development
22. The two sides agreed to actively facilitate trade, expand trade scale, improve trade mix, regulate implementation of trade rules and upgrade trade level so as to promote the growth of bilateral trade in an all-round, orderly and balanced manner.
23. The two sides agreed to expand two-way investment. They support their enterprises to strengthen investment cooperation in more areas and encourage technology transfer between the two sides.
24. The two sides agreed to work more closely in infrastructure. They will complement each other in terms of capital, technology and engineering techniques, and explore new projects in order to develop infrastructure, improve people's livelihood and raise the capability of independent development.
25. The two sides agreed to promote financial cooperation. They encourage their financial institutions to forge closer ties and jointly provide financial support to and facilitate activities of investment, project contracting and trade by the two sides. They also encourage mutually beneficial cooperation in the banking sector in accordance with their respective laws and regulations.
26. The two sides agreed to step up cooperation in human resources development to learn from each other and draw upon each other's strengths.
27. The two sides agreed to coordinate with each other in international economic and trade organizations, to jointly build a multilateral trading regime that is open, fair and well-regulated and uphold the common interests of developing countries.
28. The two sides agreed to accelerate negotiations and reach an early agreement on the China-Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade Area.
29. The two sides support projects through mutual investment in oil and natural gas, and agreed to strengthen and expand their existing cooperation, particularly in the exploration, development, transportation and refining of oil and natural gas. They agreed to conduct mutual visits, jointly host seminars and workshops and take part in activities organized by the other side to share best practices and transfer technologies in the areas of energy and environmental protection for energy-related projects.
30. The two sides agreed to step up cooperation and dialogue in environmental protection and prevention of desertification and maintain close consultation and coordination on international environmental affairs to promote mutually-beneficial cooperation in environmental protection and sustainable development.
31. The two sides agreed to carry out cooperation in science and technology through closer exchanges. They will conduct cooperation in the forms of joint research and technology transfer in the fields of seawater desalination, environment-friendly technology, highly-efficient agricultural technology and clean, new and renewable energy.
32. The two sides are aware of the severe challenges humanity faces in the environment and sustainable development and are ready to join the rest of the international community in responding to challenges in the spirit of openness and pragmatism. They support the important role the UN plays in promoting sustainable development worldwide and will work together to promote environmental protection and sustainable development in the world.
33. The two sides attach great importance to the issue of climate change, and are ready to work with the international community to tackle this issue. They stressed that any international arrangement designed to combat climate change must be based on the principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". They agreed to strengthen cooperation in response to climate change, including in the fields of technology exchange, improvement of energy efficiency and the development of new and renewable energy.
III. People-to-people Exchanges and Dialogue among Civilizations
34. The two sides encourage their research and education institutions and universities to conduct cooperation in the fields of education, research and academic exchanges, including the teaching of the Chinese and Arabic languages.
35. The two sides encourage and support official and people-to-people exchange programs sponsored by Chinese and Arab cultural institutions. They support protection of cultural heritage and collection and publication of cultural works with the use of information and communication technologies. Both sides attach importance to mutual cultural emulation for common development.
36. The two sides agreed to set up a mechanism to host cultural festivals alternately on a regular basis.
37. The two sides will encourage and facilitate the establishment of an Arab Cultural Center in China and Chinese Cultural Centers in the Arab States.
38. The two sides agreed to create conditions for and encourage tourism cooperation. Favorable considerations will be given to granting the Arab States the Approved Destination Status for Chinese group tourists.
39. The two sides agreed to enhance exchange and dialogue among civilizations to promote mutual understanding and interaction among people of different countries. Cultural diversity should be respected and cultural exchanges should be conducted in the spirit of equality, mutual respect and tolerance.
40. The two sides see great value in participating in regional and international initiatives aimed at strengthening cooperation among different civilizations, cultures and religions, in an effort to combat mutual exclusion and instigation of violence in all forms. They oppose the practice of vilifying and demonizing other countries' religions, faiths, sacred items and religious figures under the pretext of freedom of expression.
IV. Friendship and Cooperation between News Agencies
41. The two sides agreed to forge closer ties in journalism and the publishing industry, and enhance mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and Arab peoples through the mass media of various forms including TV, newspaper and radio.
V. China-Arab Cooperation Forum
42. The two sides agreed to work more closely under the guidance of the principles laid down in the Communiqué and Action Plan of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum in achieving the goals set therein to bring more tangible benefits to the peoples of both sides for common development.
43. The two sides agreed to step up innovation, add more substance to China-Arab cooperation, improve institution building of the Forum and explore a development model of the Forum based on the real situation of the two sides and the particular features of China-Arab relations.
44. The two sides support establishment of ties between the Forum and other regional or multilateral cooperation mechanisms each side has participated in to expand the horizon of bilateral cooperation.
45. The two sides appreciate the efforts of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the host of the third Ministerial Meeting of the Forum, and welcome the fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Forum to be held in China in 2010 and the next Senior Officials' Meeting of the Forum to be held in China in 2009.
Done in duplicate in Manama on May 2008 in the Chinese and Arabic languages, both texts being equally authentic.
For the People's Republic of China
(Signed) Yang Jiechi
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China For the League of the Arab States
(Signed) Amr Moussa
Secretary General of the League of the Arab States