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China-Arab States Cooperation Forum Holds Ninth Ministerial Conference

On 6 July 2020, the ninth Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) was held via video link. The conference was co-chaired by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Hussein Abdullah Al-Safadi, and attended by foreign ministers or ministerial-level officials of all member states of the League of Arab States (LAS) and LAS Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Wang read President Xi Jinping's congratulatory message to the conference.

In his remarks, Wang underscored that in battling COVID-19, China and Arab states have stood firmly together and demonstrated solidarity and partnership through mutual support. This is a vivid example of how we pursue our shared future. The China-Arab traditional friendship will come through even stronger and our strategic cooperation will be further elevated.

Wang noted that at the opening ceremony of the last CASCF Ministerial Conference, President Xi Jinping announced the establishment of a Sino-Arab future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and common development, and proposed to build a community with a shared future for China and Arab states. The past two years have witnessed close high-level interactions between the two sides, a strong momentum in China-Arab cooperation across the board, a productive Sino-Arab strategic partnership, and a blossoming community with a shared future for China and Arab states.

Faced with the global challenge of COVID-19 and once-in-a-century changes in the world, China and Arab states need to keep to the right strategic direction with a broader international vision, and take forward strategic cooperation with a greater sense of historical urgency. He called on both sides to make the community with a shared future for China and Arab states a reality, and work untiringly for building a community with a shared future for mankind. To this end, Wang proposed closer cooperation in five areas.

First, strengthen unity and cooperation to defeat COVID-19. China is ready to continue to support Arab states by providing anti-epidemic supplies, sharing experience and sending expert teams. China suggests holding the China-Arab States Health Cooperation Forum as soon as possible, and will actively cooperate with Arab states on vaccine R&D. Both sides must jointly support the WHO in playing its key role, oppose politicization and stigmatization over COVID-19, and reject racial discrimination and ideological prejudices.

Second, give each other firm support and jointly defend fairness and justice. China firmly supports Arab states in maintaining political security and social stability and pursuing independent development. It will continue to stand firmly with the Palestinian people and the Arab people. China appreciates the Arab brothers' support to its just position on Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and other matters that are China's internal affairs.

Third, uphold multilateralism and improve global governance. China and Arab states must take a clear stand of supporting the UN-centered multilateral system and the international order underpinned by international law, firmly reject all forms of unilateralism and power politics, and work to increase the voice and representation of developing countries in global governance.

Fourth, advance Belt and Road cooperation and join hands in pursuing national rejuvenation. The priority of China-Arab cooperation should be placed on reopening the economy, stabilizing employment and ensuring people's basic needs. Fast-track services for the visits of essential personnel should be explored, and cooperation on industrial and supply chains deepened. Both sides need to focus on priority areas and work for high-quality, sustainable and people-centered Belt and Road cooperation.

Fifth, promote political dialogue for greater security in the Middle East. It is crucial to seek solutions to the flashpoints in the Middle East through political dialogue, build a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable regional security architecture that rises above the zero-sum game mentality, and further leverage the key role of the UN. China and Arab states need to vigorously promote dialogue among civilizations, stand against the so-called "clash of civilizations" and the superiority of certain civilizations over others, and oppose associating terrorism with a particular ethnicity or religion. Both sides must stay committed to development to lay a more solid foundation for enduring peace and security in the Middle East.

Wang also put forward a number of proposals on the development of CASCF. In the coming two years, China will work with the Arab side to organize successful events under the six major mechanisms of CASCF, deepen people-to-people exchanges in six major areas, work for the success of six cooperation projects, and continue to explore new areas of cooperation.

Representatives of the 21 participating Arab states and the LAS Secretary General spoke highly of the Arab-China relations, noting that the two sides have trusted and supported each other, expanded the areas of cooperation, and made strategic progress in the relationship.

The Arab side commended China's important achievements in fighting COVID-19, thanked China for providing assistance in medical supplies, and expressed readiness to strengthen anti-epidemic cooperation with China and support the WHO in playing a leading role.

The Arab side will work with China to implement the execution plan for 2020-2022, accelerate Belt and Road cooperation based on the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, and deepen cooperation in such areas as trade, investment, energy, science and technology, tourism, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, to achieve common and sustainable development.

The Arab side supports holding an Arab-China summit to open up new prospects for jointly building a community with a shared future.

In the international arena, both sides uphold multilateralism and the basic norms of international relations including non-interference. The Arab side highly appreciates China for its long-standing support to the Palestinian people's legitimate rights and interests, and for standing with the Arab people. On its part, the Arab side firmly supports China in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity, stays committed to the one-China principle, supports China's just position on Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and opposes interference in China's internal affairs.

The conference released the China-Arab states joint statement on solidarity against COVID-19, the Amman declaration, and the CASCF execution plan for 2020-2022.

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