Doha, 30 Jan. 2019 (QNA)
After two successful visits to South Korea and Japan, Amir of State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani arrives to the People’s Republic of China for the third stop of Asian tour, affirming the high level relations have reached to, the mutual trust between both leaders and the goals that both sides seek to achieve which serves the benefits and mutual targets in all fields.
The timing and goals of the tour gives it great importance as it is the second tour Amir of Qatar is conducting in Asia since the unjust blockade on Qatar since June 2017, where the first tour covered Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia in October 2017. The second tour confirms that the State of Qatar succeeded by all means in overcoming the blockade and its goals and was able to promote and expand its relations and strategic partnerships with different world countries, especially major and influential countries that are international decision makers politically and economically. This tour will open new horizons and markets for the Qatari economy, products and investments, which promotes the State economy’s position, serves its goals, aspires, programs and plans of the Qatar National Vision 2030.
Amir of Qatar and the accompanying delegation will discuss with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and senior Chinese officials, the ways to promote unique relations and strategic partnerships between both countries in different fields, which serves the interests of both countries and their people. They will also exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest.
Qatar holds unique relations with China since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between both countries on July 9, 1988, which paved the way to start a new era for relations between both countries and people who have mutual respect and understanding.
Relations between the two countries have gone through three major stages, the first phase started with the establishment till 1999, where both countries worked on exploring the potentials and cooperation opportunities in different fields, especially in the energy and petrochemicals sectors. The second phase started with the visit of Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani to China in 1999 that launched his Asian vision especially towards China and laid the foundations that built the bilateral relations. During the visit several agreements were signed in Areas of economic, political and cultural cooperation. The third and most important phase in the relations began in November 2014, with the visit of Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, which attracted local, regional and international interest. The visit saw the signing of a joint statement to establish strategic partnership between the two countries, and the signing of a memorandum of understanding on partnership in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, which paved the way for the rapid and comprehensive development of Chinese-Qatari relations and moving it into new stages.
On the other hand, there have been numerous visits by senior Chinese officials to Doha in recent years, most notably the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Qatar in 2008 when he was vice president.
Relations between the two countries have been strengthened through several agreements and memorandums of understanding on economic, trade and investment cooperation, the promotion and protection of mutual investments, the development of joint investments, health, culture and education as well as land, sea and air transport. In addition to the energy sector, oil and gas imports, exploration and participation in production, strategic and military cooperation, banking, as well as cooperation in the field of women’s and family affairs, sports and media sectors.
The agreements and memorandums of understanding included a twinning agreement between Doha and Beijing, and the convention on the regulation of the employment of Chinese labor in Qatar. As well as in the field of forests, combating desertification and protecting wild animals and plants. Qatar also organized the Qatar-China 2016 Year of Culture which was the most important cultural activity in the history of both countries and one of the most important events was the opening of the Treasures of China exhibition and the Pearls, Treasures from the Seas and the Rivers in Beijing.
Last November, Doha hosted the sixth edition of the World Economic Development Forum under the title “Global Mindset for Connecting with pearl of the Middle East-Qatar,” in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Qatar-China relations. Qatar’s hosting has reflected the State’s growing role as the capital of trade, business and investment. Last year, Qatar opened a center for the settlement of transactions in the Chinese currency, the first of its kind in the Middle East.
Qatar’s investment in China, such as the financial sector, banks and real estate fields, has also increased and considered to be effective investments of a developmental nature. The State of Qatar is represented by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) as a shareholder of the Agricultural Development Bank of China with 13 percent. The bank is currently one of the most important Chinese banks at the moment, and there are many investments for Qatari businessmen in various parts of China.
The governments of Qatar and China strengthened their bilateral relations during the first round of strategic dialogue held in Beijing last December focusing on the economic, security, cultural and tourism fields.
The two countries stressed the importance of strengthening their partnership, coordinating positions on regional issues and increasing cooperation in international organizations. They discussed exchanging information on investment opportunities and signing investment agreements to attract capital through entering into various Chinese country partnerships.
China’s position towards the unjust blockade imposed on Qatar stood clear and neutral from the Gulf crisis and stressed that its policy is not to interfere in the affairs of other countries, as well as a need to resolve conflicts through dialogue and peaceful means. During the beginning of the Gulf crisis, China announced the support for Kuwait to mediate the crisis and to launch a dialogue between all parties in order to restore security and stability in the region.
China is an important trade partner for the State of Qatar, with trade between the two countries reached $10.4 billion in 2017. Qatar became China’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), supplying about 40 percent of its LNG needs and meeting the growing demand for energy. Qatargas signed a long-term sale and purchase agreement with PetroChina International Company Limited in September to supply 3.4 million tons of LNG annually to China until 2040. China is expected to become one of the largest gas markets in the world, with 179 Chinese companies registered and operating in Qatar, including 10 wholly-owned Chinese companies operating in the Qatari market.
Qatar Airways has direct flights to seven Chinese cities, and the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) is developing programs to attract Chinese tourists, of whom more than 45,000 visited Qatar in 2017, up 26 percent from 2016.
China is a vast country of 9,226,410 square kilometers and a population of more than 1.37 billion people. In recent years China has contributed more than 30 percent to the growth of the world economy, averaging 14.5 percent in 40 years, with China’s exports and imports jumping in the reform and opening-up contracts after China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001.
China is one of the major industries in the world and it occupies advanced positions in several industries such as steel, iron, electronic games, televisions, automobiles and smart phones. The industry accounts for 45 percent of China’s GDP. The Chinese government has implemented five five-year plans since 1952 that are currently achieving remarkable success, with China’s economic strength jumped to the world’s second-largest economy. China is currently implementing the 13th five-year plan 2016-2020 which will help China’s per capita income in cities and rural areas to double by 2020 to an average income of $20,000 per year.