Dialogue on China-Saudi Arabia Relations under Belt and Road Initiative and Vision 2030 was Successfully Held

Source:CIIDS 27-06-22 03:59 Updated BJT
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On the afternoon of June 21, 2022, the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy (CIIDS) and the Saudi Center for Research & Intercommunication Knowledge (CRIK) jointly held a dialogue via zoom on China-Saudi Arabia Relations under the BRI and Vision 2030. CIIDS Vice Chairman and Secretary General, Mr. Wang Boyong, opened the dialogue with a welcome speech and CRIK Chairman, Dr. Yahya bin Junaid, concluded the dialogue. Professor Huang Renwei (CIIDS Vice Chairman and Executive Vice Dean of Fudan Institute of the Belt and Road & Global Governance), Dr. Ahmed A. Ben Baz (Saudi Cabinet Advisor), Mr. Niu Xinchun (Director of the Institute of Middle East Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations), Dr. Ahmed Altuwaijri (Professor of Economics at King Saud University), Mr. Zhou Dadi (CIIDS Vice Chairman and former Director of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission), Mr. Mohammed Ajlan (Chairman of Saudi-Chinese Council), Dr. Liu Xinghua (Director of the CIIDS Center for China Economic and Financial Studies and Distinguished Professor at Tongji University), Professor Luo Lin (Dean of School of Middle Eastern Studies of Beijing Language and Culture University), Dr. Ahmed albaz (Director of School of Liberal Arts Research Center of King Saud University), Mr. Xiao Xin (Executive Director of CIIDS Center for Carbon Neutrality and Intelligent Industrial Innovation), and Mr. Wang Wenju (Senior Advisor to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, the United Arab Emirates) participated and spoke at the dialogue. CIIDS Vice Chairman, Mr. Feng Wei moderated the dialogue.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Wang Boyong extended a hearty welcome and appreciation, on behalf of CIIDS Chairman, Mr. Zheng Bijian, to the participating Chinese and Saudi experts. For more than three decades, China and Saudi Arabia, two key world  regional powers, have enjoyed steady and sound bilateral relations, which not only has delivered regional security and prosperity, but has contributed to the peace and development of the world at large, Wang said. This dialogue is aimed at promoting the two countries’ cooperation in economy, trade, energy, fiance and infrastructure construction, deepening people-to-people and cultural exchanges and increasing consensus on global governance improvement between the two countries.

The experts discussed at great length about the unfolding Russia-Ukraine conflict, and all agree that while the conflict is exerting adverse impacts on the security and stability of the Middle East, it also offers a rare opportunity for China and Saudi Arabia to deepen cooperation.

Professor Huang Renwei noted that as the conflict is casting the north and middle Silk Road Economic Belt routes within the Russian borders into ever greater question, the south route running through the Middle East is taking on increasing importance, which promises new opportunities for China-Saudi cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. Moreover, cooperation among such major Middle Eastern countries as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey could also be effectively promoted under the Belt and Road Initiative which serves in effect as a solid converging point of common interests in the region.

Dr. Ahmed A. Ben Baz highlighted the ramifications of the on-going conflict for the geopolitics, economy and security of the Middle East. Due to the fact that the Middle East is heavily dependent on grains imports from the two warring countries, the conflict is posing grave threats to the food security of the region. What’s more, the Middle Eastern economies have been rendered more vulnerable by the ensuing Western sanctions and energy price fluctuations, thus threatening to incur social unrest in the region.

Saudi oils boast a keen competitive edge by virtue of their vast reserves, low costs and desirable production carbon intensity, analyzed Director Niu Xinchun who also predicts a boost in energy cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia amid major shifts of the global energy landscape. China has long attached great importance to its relations with the Middle Eastern countries. And with an increasingly measured scale-back of the US strategic presence in the region, the Middle Eastern countries are also laying more stress on their relations with China, thus ushering in unprecedented opportunities for China and Saudi Arabia, among others in the region, to engage more closely.

Experts on both sides concurred that China and Saudi Arabia enjoy a tremendous potential for cooperation in economy, trade, energy, finance and infrastructure construction, which promises great success should it be tapped into properly.

CIIDS Vice Chairman Mr. Zhou Dadi stressed that China has entered into long-term cooperation with Saudi Arabia in oil production, imports and exports. In the coming decades, China will remain a world major oil and gas importer. Maintaining and expanding trade in oil and gas, as such, will make an important aspect of China-Saudi cooperation in economy and trade. Besides, both countries are currently  faced with a task to shift towards a low-carbon society against the backdrop of global energy transformation. On the strength of China’s advantage of scale and technologies in PV and energy storage battery manufacturing, it is completely feasible for China and Saudi Arabia to innovate cooperation models in “New Infrastructure” construction and transportation automation, thereby opening a new space for the two countries’ economic cooperation and trade.

Dr. Ahmed Altuwaijri observed that since its inception in 2016, the China-Saudi Arabia High-level Joint Committee has vigorously promoted the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Vision 2030. The Saudi Arabia has put in place an array of measures to provide a better investment and business environment and a fair play field, and has introduced firm legal protection for the investors. As we speak, the Kingdom is making special efforts to attract investment to petrochemical manufacturing and information technology R&D, among seven other key areas. China’s investment in clean energy, the internet and infrastructure will not only give a stronger play to the private sector in Saudi Arabia, but well fits the country’s goal for a more diversified national income.

China and Saudi Arabia enjoy a solid foundation to deepen economic cooperation and trade, which not only is consistent with the principle set forth by China’s 14th Five-Year Plan that China will implement opening-up policies in a wider scope, in broader areas, at a deeper level and with higher standards, but also will go a long way towards meeting the vast production capacity and invest demands expected to be unleashed in Saudi Arabia under the Vision 2030, analyzed Professor Liu Xinhua, who suggests that the two countries strengthen cooperation in green energy, infrastructure, finance and technology and jointly carry out cooperation with a suitable third party, thereby promoting and deepening the cooperation between China and the Arab world, and reviving the China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Free Trade Agreement negotiations at an early date.

Mr. Mohammed Ajlan echoed the view that there is an extremely enormous space for China and Saudi Arabia to engage in economic cooperation and trade, adding that close cooperation is being carried out between the two countries at the moment in satellite communication. Huawei has set up operations in the Saudi Arabia, providing cloud tech services for the remote parts of the country. The goals of Saudi Arabia are highly consistent with those of China. The two countries should keep on improving communication mechanisms and increasing communication and coordination so as to tap ever deeper into their vast cooperation potential.

Experts of the two sides fully heed the rich cultural heritage and the practical needs for people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries. They are all convinced that with the encouragement and support from the two governments, the cultural exchanges between the two peoples will see steady and continuous growth in the years to come.

Professor Luo Lin pointed out that there exist many converging points between the traditional Chinese culture and the Arabic-Islamic culture in terms of traditional values and ethics. The two countries’ deepening cooperation in economy, trade, technology and energy has laid a solid foundation for promoting  cultural exchanges between the two peoples. With the buoyant development of China’s cultural industry and such info-exchange platforms as new media and We Media, the cultural exchanges between the two peoples are bound to grow in both breadth and depth.

Dr. Ahmed Albaz shared that the cultural exchanges between the two peoples go back to ancient times and have borne full fruit since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. This is a result of the support and encouragement from the two governments and peoples that are committed to enhancing cultural ties between us. Therefore, more incentives are needed to facilitate a deeper cultural exchange between the two peoples.

Mr. Wang Wenju and Mr. Xiao Xin weighed in on the two countries’ cooperation in infrastructure and technology R&D, and both expressed confidence in the bright prospects for future cooperation in the areas.

Dr. Yahya bin Junaid emphasized in his concluding remarks that this dialogue was not only a resounding success but of great significance. The modern Silk Road is an extension of the ancient Silk Road which bore witness to the glory of both the Chinese and Arabic civilizations. As the Belt and Road Initiative dovetails more closely with the Vision 2030, the ties between the two countries are bound to move beyond pure interests to deeper areas, and so are the ties between the two peoples, those of the two next generations in particular. Dr. Yahya bin Junaid also expressed his hopes to hold events with CIIDS in person as soon as the world emerges from the pandemic to strengthen communication and expand cooperation, thereby contributing more to the development of the friendship between the two countries.

CIIDS Vice Chairman Mr. Feng Wei closed the dialogue, hailing it as a rich discussion and an excellent demonstration of one of the five areas of connectivity President Xi Jinping put forward to develop the Belt and Road Initiative, namely people-to-people exchanges (among policy, infrastructure, trade, finance). Experts of both sides have all contributed much food for thought and many valuable suggestions as to how to seize opportunities and expand cooperation, thereby materializing a common peaceful rise of both China and Saudi Arabia amid a tumultuous economic and political world. We CIIDS stand ready to work with the CRIK and make joint contributions to the grand undertaking of promoting mutual understanding between China, Saudi Arabia and the world.

Editor: 董寒阳
27-06-22 03:59 BJT
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