China's role in Middle East will be enhanced: FM

Updated: 2014-01-10 02:20

(China Daily)

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VI. Peaceful use of nuclear energy is an important area of cooperation. Many Arab countries want to enhance cooperation with China in this area. When will we see China-Arab cooperation in this area start?

We will gradually start cooperation with Arab countries in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This is a new area for mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Arab countries, to which China takes a positive attitude. This issue was raised in my meetings in both Algeria and Saudi Arabia during this visit, and relevant agreements were signed with some countries. There are broad prospects for cooperation in this area.

Follow up: China has launched satellites for many countries but not yet for any Middle East countries. When can we expect to see a satellite launched by China in the region?

We are more than happy to discuss with Arab countries about putting their satellites in space, if they so wish. We hope this will be materialized in the near future.

VII. Some people claim that China's role in the Middle East is largely economic. How will China play a bigger political role? Besides, we have noticed that China, as the second-largest economy in the world, has provided what seemed to be limited humanitarian assistance to the region when disaster hit, in particular to Syrian and Palestinian refugees. How would you explain it?

I think there are some misunderstandings on this. China is always ready to have cooperation for mutual benefit with all countries in this region, Arab countries in particular, not only in the economic field, but also in the political, security and military fields. Having said that, there is always a need for prioritization, and a need for China to build up its capabilities for sustained expansion of such cooperation. It is true that China-Arab cooperation in recent years has mainly focused on the economic field. That is because we believe that development holds the key to and serves as the foundation for solving all problems. Any solution to hot-button and political issues hinges on economic growth and better life for the people. As far as Arab countries are concerned, the most crucial task facing them is national development and economic revitalization. China is ready to do what it can to provide help and assistance as it has done in the past. Since 2012, China has provided humanitarian assistance on six occasions totaling $18 million to the Syrian people and Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. China has offered support and assistance over the years, not just this year. Back in the days when we were extremely poor and less developed, we tightened our belt to support people in the Middle East in their just cause, especially the Palestinian people.

We will continue to do so in the future and furthermore, we will play a role in the political field as well. China's political role in the Middle East will only be enhanced, not diminished. In 2013, we hosted the visits to China by Palestinian and Israeli leaders at about the same time as the UN International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace in Beijing. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to the meeting held by the United Nations to mark the "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People". I attended the Palestinian-Israeli peace symposium during my Middle East visit and invited persons insightful from both sides to the symposium. We offered a platform for all to make their views heard, to seek more consensus and to raise the voice for peace together. I think this is a useful endeavor, and if continued, the voice for peace will become louder and the forces for peace will grow stronger. All this will help to provide impetus to and exert positive influence on the negotiations between the two sides. All in all, China's all-round role will gradually and more visibly be felt by Arab countries and get their understanding and support.

VIII. In face of the complicated situation in South Sudan, China, as a friend of South Sudan and with major interests in that country, has immediately sent an envoy there for mediation efforts. What is China's position on the South Sudan issue and what role will China play in this regard?

We are indeed following closely what is happening in South Sudan. What is most important for South Sudan is stability and development, without which the fundamental interests of all ethnicities in the country would be impaired. Conflicts will bring suffering to all the people, which is not in the interests of South Sudan at all. Since the outbreak of the conflict, China has urged the international community to send envoys for mediation efforts and has actively supported the mediation efforts of the IGAD countries. China has a four-point position on this issue. First, a cease-fire should take effect and violence should be stopped immediately, so as to make way for peace talks and to maintain law and order in the country. Second, it is imperative to launch an inclusive political dialogue process as soon as possible and find a solution acceptable to both sides. Third, the international community should intensify efforts for peace talks, urging both sides to engage in serious peace talks. Fourth, it is important to improve the humanitarian situation in South Sudan.

As large numbers of civilians have been caught in the crossfire and their life, property and personal safety have been threatened, the international community should support and help them as much as possible. At the same time, we hope and believe that the government of South Sudan will take concrete and effective measures to protect the lives and properties of the Chinese nationals in the country.