Opinion: President Xi’s visit to push China-UAE ties to a new high
Updated 13:47, 23-Jul-2018
He Wenping
Editor's note: He Wenping is Senior research fellow at the Charhar Institute and research fellow at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
With the Burj Khalifa Tower wrapped with China's five-starred red flag and the launching of  “UAE-China Week” between July 17 and 24, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday began his first visit to the UAE, while starting his first overseas trips in 2018 which will also take him to Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa and Mauritius.  
Dubai skyline, UAE /VCG Photo

Dubai skyline, UAE /VCG Photo

Xi's first visit to the UAE is not only the first Chinese leader’s visit in the 29 years but also a significant milestone in the relations between two countries.
Since the establishment of the diplomatic ties in 1984, China-UAE relations have been developed in a very smooth and steady way. In 2017, bilateral trade between China and the UAE reached 52 billion US dollars.
The UAE, which alone represents 23 percent of Arab trade with China, has become China’s biggest exporting market in the Arab world and the second biggest trade partners in the region. In terms of investment, there are nearly 4000 Chinese companies doing business in the UAE, while 200,000 Chinese citizens are living in the country. In 2016, the total Chinese investment in UAE reached 29.5 billion US dollars, representing 31.9 percent of China’s total investment in the Arab states and ranking as the top investment destination in the region.
The UAE is also the first Arab state which embraces the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). In fact, as early as 2000 years ago, when the traders linked Asia-Middle East by the porcelain, pearl, silk and tea trade, the UAE had already functioned as a very important juncture connecting Asia and the entire Arab world. By now, with all the above advantages that the UAE has been taking, it will further play the significant role for the BRI proceeding along the traditional Silk Road.
Ni Jian, China's Ambassador to the UAE, speaks to the journalists of UAE at the ceremony for The UAE-China Week in Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi, UAE on July 17,2018./Photo courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China

Ni Jian, China's Ambassador to the UAE, speaks to the journalists of UAE at the ceremony for The UAE-China Week in Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi, UAE on July 17,2018./Photo courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China

With the joint effort for advancing the BRI, China-UAE cooperation has generated encouraging results. In the area of upstream energy cooperation, the UAE has awarded Chinese companies a 12 percent stake in Abu Dhabi’s onshore oil concession in 2017 and another 10 percent stake in each of the two offshore Abu Dhabi oil concessions in 2018 respectively, which stands as the first such Chinese acquisition in the Middle East; In the area of industrial cooperation, as Xi said the two countries have made “historic progress” in this aspect. Just to name a few, for example, the Khalifa Port Container Terminal Two, a project jointly built and operated by Chinese and UAE companies with an annual capacity of 2.4 million TEUs, will be up and running in the first quarter of 2019. The China-UAE Industrial Capacity Demonstration Zone located in the Khalifa Industrial Zone has attracted 16 enterprises settled in and with a committed investment of 6.4 billion yuan (953 million US dollars).
In the financial sector, the UAE is not only a member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) but also became part of the China-UAE Joint Investment Fund in 2015, which was established by China, with the total fund  size 10 billion US dollars, and now the Fund has finalized plans for investment in 12 projects valued at 1.08 billion US dollars.
Finally, in the area of people to people cooperation, more and more UAE students come to China, which becomes the fourth largest visitor source market for Dubai, with tourist number reaching record one million in 2017.
Furthermore, China-UAE bilateral relations is not only being strengthened by the above economic and cultural cooperation, but also cemented with shared goals and values. By the time Xi put forward the BRI and “Chinese Dream” for realizing “a community of shared future for mankind”, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed also raised the idea of “Reinvigorate the ancient Silk Road” and the “UAE Dream” for building the UAE as the most beautiful country in the world. With the shared goals, we believe that China and UAE can further tap the cooperation potentials in industrial, agriculture, financial and manufacturing sector. 
Xi’s visit will advance China-UAE relations at a higher level and build a China-UAE community of shared future in Belt and Road cooperation.