ABU DHABI, 9th December, 2015 (WAM) — Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of the Board of the National Media Council, has said that the UAE and China’s relations are based on decades of cultural and civilisational communication and trade exchange between the two countries.

On the occasion of the official visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to China, beginning this weekend, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber and Chang Hua, Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China in the UAE, held a joint press conference in Abu Dhabi today.

Addressing local, Chinese, and international media, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said that this visit comes at an important and critical time, and will include a series of high-level meetings between His Highness Sheikh Mohamed and the Chinese Government that aim to strengthen mutual bonds and strategic ties between the UAE and China.

The Crown Prince’s visit, from December 13th-15th, will address issues of common interest and will work to bolster existing and deep-rooted relations, which Dr. Al Jaber said will act as a new paradigm shift, accentuating the importance of the two nations’ strategic relations with the objective of enhancing relationships in the political, economic, trade, security and military fields.

Dr. Al Jaber said, “The relationship between the UAE and China IS based on decades of cultural and civilisational communication and trade exchange which began when the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, sent a letter to his Chinese counterpart on the founding of the UAE in 1971, and the subsequent establishment of diplomatic relations in 1984.”

“We see our relationship with China as a strategic one, built upon the foundations of respect, trust, and equality. In a world undergoing a significant economic shift, the UAE and China share a common goal in ensuring sustainable growth, stability and prosperity.”

He added, “The UAE looks to further expand its economic relations with China, particularly as a founding partner of the Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank, AIIB, and in the context of China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy.”

“The UAE is a strong supporter of President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative that will encourage increased economic prosperity and development throughout Eurasia and the Middle East. We believe that the UAE can play a critical role in acting as a gateway for China into the region. Our partnership will also open opportunities for co-investment around key strategic sectors.”

Bilateral trade between the two countries was AED231.21 million (US$63 million) when diplomatic relations were established in 1984. Current figures for the year to date stand at AED201.28 billion (US$ 54.8 billion). With 4,200 Chinese companies registered in the UAE, the country is the largest Middle East market for Chinese products.

Al Jaber went on to say that the main aim of the Crown Prince’s visit is to discuss economic and political agendas and the shared approaches, and face global challenges instability, energy access, climate change and many other areas.

He also said that deeper ties with China will help in all sectors, especially rail, space, finance, and sustainability.

The Chinese Ambassador, Chang Hua, expressed his delight at the third visit of HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to China, which he said “will enhance and boost our relations, as China views the UAE as a major partner in the Middle East.”

Speaking on existing joint cooperation in the field of education, public health, financing, and transport infrastructure, the ambassador said that, “This visit will put a new face on our relationship.”

Below is the Chinese Ambassador’s statement in full: “I am very delighted to be present at today’s news briefing with Dr. Sultan, Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates. First of all, I would like to extend my appreciation to Dr. Sultan, as he has met me most often among all Ministers of the UAE Government ever since I began to serve as Chinese Ambassador to the UAE in December 2014. Dr. Sultan has made strenuous yet fruitful efforts to promote the China-UAE relationship. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him in a heartfelt manner for his hard work.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will visit China once again with a high-level delegation in a few days time, marking the third visit to China by him after previous ones in 2009 and 2012. During this visit, Sheikh Mohamed will discuss ways to push forward friendly cooperation in all fields with Chinese leaders, thus ushering in a new page of the China-UAE relationship. I am confident that this visit will be useful for the two sides to further connect their development strategies and make fresh achievements in China-UAE friendly cooperation.

Ever since China and the UAE established diplomatic relations 31 years ago, bilateral ties have maintained sustained, sound and smooth development. China has for long viewed the UAE as a major partner for cooperation in the Middle East and Gulf Region. Bilateral trade volume in 2014 hit US$54.8 billion, hitting a new high. Also, cooperation in energy, finance, investment, aviation, tourism and contract projects has been rather fruitful. In April this year, the UAE formally became a prospective founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. People-to-people exchanges have been very active in such areas as tourism, education, public health, etc., which further enriches the content of the China-UAE strategic partnership.

This has been my second posting to the UAE. I was very happy and privileged to be accredited as Chinese Ambassador to the UAE in December 2014, as I was able to come back to this piece of land familiar to me and beloved by me. I am all the more relieved by this forthcoming visit by the UAE leader on the occasion of the first anniversary of my term of office as Chinese Ambassador to the UAE. I am sure that this visit will be a new milestone in our bilateral relationship.”

At the end of the conference, Dr. Al Jaber said that details of all bilateral agreements across the spectrum of UAE-China cooperation will be announced during the visit, which he referred to as an important milestone in international relations.