Tue, 17 May 2022

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CAIRO/BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- The latest round of intensive interaction between China and several Middle East countries, as well as between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), will enhance China's cooperation with those countries and the Middle East region as a whole, analysts have said.

Abdulaziz Al-Shaabani, a Saudi journalist and expert on China, said the recent interaction is in line with both China's and the Gulf countries' wishes, and will benefit all sides by promoting economic and trade exchanges between the world's second largest economy and the Gulf countries.

"The time has come for China and the Gulf states to have deeper and more comprehensive relations, especially in light of the similar challenges they face, and their common wish to strengthen bilateral relations," he said.

Noting that both China and the Gulf countries attach great importance to their sovereign independence and oppose any country's interference in internal affairs of others, Abdulaziz Al-Anjari, founder and CEO of the Reconnaissance Research in Kuwait, said the common ground will help deepen the relationship between the two sides.

During a meeting between Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and visiting GCC Secretary-General Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf on Tuesday, the two sides agreed that the conditions for China and the GCC to establish a strategic partnership are ripe, and they will accelerate this process. They also agreed to complete negotiations on a free-trade agreement between China and the GCC at an early date.

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Several experts believed that the facilitation of talks on a China-GCC free trade agreement is one of the major outcomes of the recent talks held in China.

Ibrahim Hamoud Al-Subhi, Oman's first ambassador to China, called for speeding up talks to facilitate the signing of a free trade agreement, and emphasized the significance of learning from the "successful and important" experience of China's development.

"Gulf states, including Oman, need a strong economic partner. I think China can play that role," he said, adding that the meeting between the leaders of the Gulf countries and China is crucial for relevant sides to strengthen cooperation, especially in the field of economy.

In a written interview with Xinhua, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said reaching a free trade agreement will further upgrade the level of bilateral cooperation, strengthen trade exchanges and lay a solid foundation for the two sides to build a mutually beneficial and win-win strategic partnership.

In face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of great significance to seal a deal on trade liberalization and facilitation, he added.

Pointing out that the GCC and China enjoy a long-lasting good relationship, the foreign minister stressed that based on mutual political trust and economic strength, the GCC-China partnership will play a particularly important role in sustaining peace, stability, and development in the Gulf region, the Middle East and the world as a whole.

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Kuwaiti economic analyst Hajjaj Boukhdour voiced his support for the creation of a free trade zone between the GCC and China, which he believes will considerably improve trade liberalization and facilitation, as well as both sides' governance capability on commercial and economic interests.

On the sideline of the meeting between Wang and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday, both sides agreed to deepen all-round cooperation to further advance bilateral ties. Wang said that under the guidance of the two heads of state, China-Turkey relations have maintained their development momentum.

Analysts believe the meeting will further synergize development strategies between Turkey and China, enhance communication and mutual understanding through bilateral channels, and expand cooperation in new areas.

On Friday, Wang held talks with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, during which the two sides announced the launch of the implementation of the 25-year comprehensive cooperation plan and conducted in-depth discussions. The two sides also exchanged views on the Iranian nuclear situation.

The Iranian foreign minister paid high attention to the 25-year comprehensive cooperation plan and the two sides' exchange of views on the Iranian nuclear situation during his visit to China, analysts said, adding that the visit will advance Iran-China cooperation in various fields.

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