China and Qatar moving full speed ahead toward closer cooperation
Updated 15:48, 01-Feb-2019
Li Guofu

Editor's note: Li Guofu, a senior research fellow and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies, China Institute of International Studies (CIIS). The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN. 

At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Al-Thani paid a state visit to China from January 30 to 31. During his visit, he discussed with Chinese leaders how two countries can further promote their cooperation.

China has always enjoyed a friendly relation with Qatar, which could be traced back thousands of years. The ancient Silk Road has already connected China with the Gulf Arab countries such as Qatar. China and Qatar formally established diplomatic relations on July 9, 1988, opening a new era of mutual respect, equal treatment and sincere cooperation between the two countries.

In the past 30 years, the friendly relations between China and Qatar have withstood the test of international vicissitudes and have always maintained a stable and healthy development. Their close cooperation can be clearly presented in economic, political and cultural realms.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (2nd L) meets with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (2nd R) in Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on December 12, 2018. /VCG Photo

Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (2nd L) meets with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (2nd R) in Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on December 12, 2018. /VCG Photo

Qatar has actively responded to and participated in the construction of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and was one of the first countries to endorse BRI and joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

In 2014, during the Qatari Emir's visit to China, the two countries established a strategic partnership and signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, which opened a new period of comprehensive and rapid development of China-Qatar relations.

In addition, in 2015, the Central Bank of Qatar and ICBC jointly launched the RMB clearing Bank in Doha. Doha became the first RMB clearing center in the Middle East, further promoting cooperation between the two countries in the economic, trade and financial fields.

At present, at least 14 wholly-owned Chinese companies and more than 181 Qatari-Chinese joint ventures are operating in the Qatar market, in areas of engineering, consulting, contracting, IT, commerce and services. Qatar has also invested in real estate, banking, e-commerce, and telecommunications in China.

In 2017, the bilateral trade volume between China and Qatar reached 10.6 billion U.S. dollars and China is the third largest trading partner of Qatar. Last year, Qatar has was also an active participant in the world's first import Expo held in Shanghai, China. Now Qatar regarded China as one of key partners in achieving its "2030 development vision".

Qatar's Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce H.E.Sultan Bin Rashid Khater speaks during the Qatar China Economic Forum, November 7, 2018. /VCG Photo

Qatar's Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce H.E.Sultan Bin Rashid Khater speaks during the Qatar China Economic Forum, November 7, 2018. /VCG Photo

In December 2018, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi together with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohamed co-chaired the first meeting of the China-Qatar Intergovernmental Strategic Dialogue in Beijing. Wang Yi hoped that the two sides could take the opportunity of building "Belt and Road" as an opportunity to promote strategic docking and win-win cooperation in energy, high and new technology, investment, finance and other fields.

China is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with Qatar in international and regional affairs. Qatari Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed expressed full support on China's determination to safeguard national security and stability and guard against terrorism and extremism, and was willing to strengthen cooperation with China in the field of security and counter-terrorism.

The two sides also announced that the agreement on full mutual visa-free entry into force, which will greatly promote exchanges between the two peoples. In recent years, more and more Chinese tourists choose Qatar as their traveling destination to experience the integration of ancient Arab culture and modern human civilization. In 2017, more than 100,000 Chinese citizens visited Qatar.

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