China-Arab ties achieve historic leap forward

Source:Chinese Social Sciences Today 2022-12-26

The convening of the China-Arab States Summit will become an epoch-making milestone in the history of China-Arab relations and usher in a more brilliant historical stage in the relationship.

New chapter of mutual trust

Since modern times, both China and Arab countries have experienced in their history the plight of colonialism and imperialist aggression. The two sides have supported each other in their struggles for national liberation. Since entering the new era, China and the League of Arab States have established a future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and joint development, and established comprehensive strategic partnerships or strategic partnerships with 12 Arab countries, forming a strategic partnership cluster between China and Arab countries.

At the China-Arab States Summit, Chinese and Arab leaders not only made strategic plans for upgrading China-Arab relations, but also further consolidated the consensus of the two sides on major issues such as global governance, development and security, and dialogue among civilizations, propelling the China-Arab friendship and a ChinaArab strategic partnership to a new historical phase.

New height of mutual benefit

Prior to the reform and opening up, despite the limited economic and trade exchanges with Arab countries and the serious economic difficulties, China still provided enormous help and gratuitous assistance to the economic development of Arab countries, which won widespread praise from Arab countries.

Since entering the new era, China-Arab practical cooperation in energy, economy and trade, investment and high technologies has yielded great achievements. In the field of energy, China and Arab countries are actively building a China-Arab strategic energy partnership of mutual benefit and long-term friendship. In the field of trade and investment, China-Arab two-way investment and trade has grown substantially. In 2021, the value of two-way direct investment between China and Arab countries reached $27 billion; total trade volume between China and Arab countries reached $330.3 billion, 1.5 times higher than 10 years ago. In the field of sci-tech innovation, under the framework of the Science and Technology Partnership Program, China and Arab countries have jointly implemented the BRI sci-tech innovation action plan, and continue to make important breakthroughs in high-tech cooperation.

New symphony of civilizational communication

Peaceful cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit have always been the theme of China-Arab historical exchanges. In ancient history, the historical China-Arab friendship not only benefited the two sides, but also made outstanding contributions to the progress of world civilization. The ancient Silk Road on land and the Spice Route by sea, established in the Qin and Han dynasties as the two arteries connecting the Eastern and Western civilizations, transcended the Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties. The peaceful exchanges between the two sides across time and space have produced outstanding historical contributions to promoting human development and civilizational progress.

Since entering the new era, China and Arab countries have witnessed rich and colorful people-to-people and cultural exchanges and have made remarkable achievements in mutual learning among civilizations. Together, China and Arab countries have carried out vibrant cooperation in youth, religion, political parties, news, education, culture, health, radio, film and television and other fields, expanded people-to-people and cultural exchanges and deepened mutual understanding. For example, as of October 2022, four Arab countries have announced that Chinese language will be included in their national education systems. In addition China has opened 20 Confucius Institutes and 2 Confucius Classrooms in Arab countries, and more than 40 Chinese universities have instituted Arabic majors, continuously cultivating new support for the China-Arab friendship.

In terms of their civilization view, both Chinese and Arab civilizations attach importance to the values of peace, loyalty, tolerance, and self-restraint, are committed to dialogue among civilizations, and advocate for inclusiveness and mutual learning.

As stated in the Report on China-Arab Cooperation in a New Era, China will work with Arab countries to promote the common values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom for all mankind, and work together to transcend cultural estrangement through exchanges of civilizations, avoid cultural conflict through mutual learning, promote cultural coexistence over cultural superiority, encourage familiarity among people of all countries, and jointly safeguard the diversity of world civilizations.

This series of major strategic arrangements will certainly inject positive energy into the peace and development of the Middle East and the world, and push ChinaArab relations to a more brilliant historical phase.


Liu Zhongmin is a professor from the Middle East Studies Institute (MESI) at Shanghai International Studies University.

Editor:Yu Hui

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