Bahraini-Chinese relations, cooperation hailed

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Manama, July 9 (BNA): Ambassador An Wa'er of the People's Republic of China to the Kingdom of Bahrain, in a statement to Bahrain News Agency (BNA), praised the Bahraini-Chinese friendship relations that date back to ancient times, noting the permanence and continuity of the diplomatic ties since their establishment in 1989.
The Chinese Ambassador said the successful royal state visit to China in 2013 has given further impetus to the bilateral relations and cooperation towards development and prosperity thanks to the directives of both leaders and joint efforts of the two peoples. He added the high level of trade exchange has become more frequent, mutual trust has been constantly strengthened, economic cooperation has been greatly promoted, cultural and educational exchanges have achieved great success. Bahrain and China have become partners of mutual understanding and trust, a cooperative partners of win-win result and a respectable partners of learning from each other based on mutual benefit, which will not only promote the strategic cooperation between China and GCC, but also safeguard peace, stability and prosperity of the Gulf region.

"Since I assumed my mission on 19 April 2018, I have been received by HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Foreign Affairs Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, to present my copies of credentials, I also met with more than 40 senior Bahraini officials. During my post as Chinese Ambassador to Bahrain, I will join hands with Bahraini government and all other friends in Bahrain to promote cooperation relations". He said.

"I deeply felt that the Bahraini government and all sectors of society attach great importance to develop relations with China as an important and reliable cooperative partner. They are urgent to strengthen bilateral exchanges at all levels, enhance the political mutual trust, expand the practical cooperation and push our friendly relations to a new level. At present, the Middle East and Gulf region are undergoing complex and profound changes. Bahrain attaches more importance to China's rising international status and influence and is eager to strengthen cooperation and coordination with China on international and regional issues of mutual concerns and safeguard our common interests." He added.

He said in recent years, the number of Chinese enterprises’ investment in Bahrain has risen rapidly. At present, the Chinese enterprises which actively develop business in Bahrain have covered all the cooperation fields, including information and communication, high-end manufacturing, environment protection and project contracting, such as Huawei Technologies, CPIC Abahsain Fiberglass, China Machinery Engineering Corporation, and Jinluo Water Company etc. As I know, CPIC Abahsain Fiberglass W.L.L is planning to invest 500 million US dollars to extend 4 production lines. The first production line established and put into use in 2009 and the second production line completed establishment in July 2017. The third and fourth production line are estimated to be completed in 2020. CMEC is now negotiating with Ministry of Housing on guaranteed financing clauses of social housing project. Once the agreement is reached, the amount of investment in the first phase will be pretty huge as 550 million USD.

With regard to the Dragon City in Bahrain, the Ambassador said it is one of the most important examples for the strong Chinese economic relations in Bahrain, it has been the largest commercial cooperation project between China and Bahrain since opened in December 2015, the Dragon City in Bahrain has been booming in business and become a new platform for economic and trade cooperation, which is an important destination of shopping, leisure and tourism for the people of Bahrain and neighbouring countries. In 2017 visitors to Dragon City in Bahrain have surpassed 7 million and increased 22% than 2016 and more than 60% visitors are from Saudi Arab and Kuwait.

According to the statistics of Bahrain government, the trade volume in 2017 was about 2 billion USD. China is the third non-oil trade partner and the biggest import source of Bahrain. I believe that with the integration of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Bahrain’s Economic Outlook 2030, we will further tap cooperative potential and enhance our bilateral friendly cooperative relations onto a new level.

Concerning Bahrain's gains from the Belt and Road Initiative, the Ambassador said in the autumn of 2013, respectively in Kazakhstan and Indonesia, President Xi Jinping proposed the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which is called by China as the Belt and Road Initiative. Adhering to the principle of building through consultation and sharing, China will closely integrate its own development with the development of relevant countries, to promote the overall development of the region and achieve common development and prosperity. Five years on, over 100 countries and international organizations have supported and got involved in this initiative. Important resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council contain reference to it. Thank to China's efforts, the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative is becoming a reality and bearing rich fruit.

Bahrain enjoys a reputation as the pearl of the Gulf with its excellent history, developed economy and diversified culture. He said he believed that with the development of Bahraini-Chinese cooperation relations the Belt and Road Initiative will help Bahrain to achieve economic transformation and upgrading, promote the strategy of diversification, and realize the prospect of political stability, economic prosperity, social harmony and improving people's livelihood.

He added Chinese companies have financial and technological advantages and are committed to expand markets in the Middle East and the Gulf. Bahrain is an important free and open economy in the Gulf, enjoys unique regional advantages and superior resources endowment, and signed free trade agreements with the United States, Europe, which is an important cooperation platform for Chinese companies and investors.

As China's economy enters a new normal and speeds up economic restructuring and kinetic energy transformation, it is also accelerating the transfer of excess capacity aboard to realize complementary advantages, win-win cooperation and common development.
In recent years, the Economic Development Board of Bahrain has carried out close cooperation with the Chinese government and enterprises, and has set up representative offices in Beijing and Hong Kong, to introduce Bahrain’s investment environment, attract more Chinese investment, stimulate growth and boost employment and improve people’s living standard.

Regarding means of promoting programmes and tourism activities between Bahrain and China, the Ambassador said Bahrain has a long history, splendid culture and rich tourism resources. Tourists can experience both the Arab history, culture and Islam, and the charm of the F1 Grand Prix and various international conferences and exhibitions. With a stable society and hospitable people, Bahrain is an oasis of harmonious coexistence between different religions and civilizations. The government of Bahrain is vigorously promoting tourism and attracting tourists from all over the world.

Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority set up its representative office in Beijing in March this year, and actively cooperate with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China, major travel agencies and airlines to launch the direct flights to China by Bahrain’s Gulf Airlines. Bahrain and China are expected to sign an agreement on mutual visa exemption for diplomatic and official passport holders in the near future. These measures will undoubtedly further facilitate personnel exchanges and promote tourism cooperation between our two countries.

With regard to a cooperation agreement signed between the two countries in agriculture and fisheries cooperation to achieve food security, the Ambassador said at present, China and Bahrain have successfully completed all the programmes and items of the fourth phase of the cooperation agreement on agriculture, animal husbandry and fishery. The fifth phase of the same has been launched in an all-round way. It has trained more than 200 Bahraini personnel under the agreement. This agreement and cooperation programme have been well received by Bahrain government and various sectors of social community of Bahrain and have played an important role in Bahrain's economic development.

Concerning enhancing the cultural exchange programmes between Bahrain and China, the Ambassador in recent years, cultural exchange has become increasingly close, and the public support and social consensus between the two friendly countries have been further consolidated. Since 2012, China has sent art troupes to visit Bahrain and performance in Bahrain every year. The Chinese cultural festival, the Chinese Cultural Week, Happy Chinese New Year and other large-scale cultural activities have been successfully held in Bahrain. Some Bahraini artists have also been invited to participate in cultural exchange activities in China.

In November 2016, the Chinese Embassy in Bahrain successfully hosted the Chinese Cultural Month, when Suzhou Ballet Art Troupe and Anhui Acrobatic Art Troupe visited Bahrain and gave amazing performances, which won high reputation in Bahrain. In September 2017, on the eve of the Chinese 68th National Day and the 19th CPC National Congress, four performances as series of Chinese Cultural Week activities conducted in Bahrain on a large scale, unprecedentedly grand with lots of high remarks. Chinese artists used their exquisite performances to spread Chinese culture and show Chinese spirit, which manifested Chinese achievements on People-to-people bond construction under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative, and sang loudly the main melody, and left heavy colorful ink in the China-Bahrain cultural exchanges and cooperation history.

In addition, the Ministry of Culture of China and Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of Chinese Cultural Center in Bahrain in August 2016, which will be the first Chinese cultural center in the Gulf. The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism and BACA are working together to cooperate to complete the establishment of the Chinese Cultural Center as soon as possible.

He said joint efforts and bilateral education cooperation have achieved fruitful results. Since the establishment of Confucius Institute at the University of Bahrain in collaboration with Shanghai University in September 2014, over 2000 students have enrolled in the Institute educational programmes. Chinese Classes for Bahraini officials have successfully held for 6 periods and trained totally over 200 officials.

In just 4 years of the establishment of Confucius Institute, it has successfully launched "China Craze" and "Chinese Boom" and become an important window and platform for the Bahraini people to learn and understand the Chinese culture and China's great achievement for the 40 years of reform and opening up, which has vigorously promoted the educational exchanges and cooperation between China and Bahrain.

With regard to Bahrain influential role within the GCC and the Arab League, he said since the establishment of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in 2004, it has set up a number of fruitful cooperation mechanisms and played positive role to consolidate China-Arab States traditional friendship, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, and promote cultural exchange. It has become an important platform to lead the China-Arab States relations and conduct collective dialogue and cooperation between the two sides in the new period.

As agreed by China and the Arab states, the 8th Ministerial Meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum will be held on July 10 in Beijing. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, foreign ministers or representatives from the Arab states and Secretary-General of the League of Arab States will attend the meeting. At the meeting, the relevant parties will have comprehensive and in-depth discussions on further consolidating the traditional friendship between China and the Arab states, advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, jointly building a new type of international relations and forging a community with a shared future for mankind, enhancing the mechanism building of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum and other international and regional issues of common interest.

Bahrain is not only an important member of the Arab League and the GCC, but also an important partner of China in the Gulf region, and has played fundamental role as a bridge between China and the GCC. I believe that the participation of H.E.Shaikh Khalid Al Khalifa, Foreign Minister of Bahrain to the 8th Ministerial Meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum will further enhance our bilateral high-level exchanges, deepen the political mutual trust, expand the pragmatic cooperation and strengthen bilateral coordination in the international and regional issues with our common concerns, which will inject new and strong impetus into the development of friendly cooperative relations between China and Bahrain and make great contributions to the success of the meeting.