History is like a mirror, showing the results of the past and the direction of future development. 2021 is a very unusual year in human history, witnessing the coincidence of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It bursts out a shining light that illuminates history, and establishes a beacon of wisdom for the future.
In the past 50 years, the people of the UAE have been united under the leadership of the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed, and achieved remarkable things. The UAE has emerged as the most important centre for trade, finance and shipping in the Middle East and a high ground for the development of global high-tech industries. It has set many world records and created miracles in the desert. In recent years, its leaders have been determined to promote economic transformation. The country has made great breakthroughs both up in the sky and down on earth – the successful launch of its Mars-bound Hope Probe to explore outer space and the completion and operation of the first commercial nuclear power plant in the Arab world, marking a magnificent transformation in the post-oil era.
Sheikh Zayed regarded openness, tolerance and coexistence as the foundation of the nation. “Countries in the world are like neighbouring families, who can achieve security and stability by establishing good relations and respecting brotherhood and tolerance.” Believing in peace, openness, diversity and tolerance, the UAE always welcomes people of different races, religions and cultural backgrounds from all over the world to live in harmony and work in peace and contentment. It has perfectly carried on Sheikh Zayed’s legacy of creating a “global model of tolerance and coexistence”.
In the past 100 years, under the CPC’s leadership, the Chinese people have achieved national independence, prosperity and happiness, and embarked on an extraordinary journey to great rejuvenation. In modern times, neither the “Westernisation Movement” of the feudal landlord class, the revolution and reform of the bourgeoisie, nor the attempts of constitutional monarchy, multi-party parliamentary and presidential republic succeeded in changing the tragic situation of China’s poverty, weakness and humiliation. It is under such background that the CPC rose to the challenge and profoundly changed the direction and process of China’s development, the future and destiny of the nation, and the trend and pattern of world development.
Today, China’s GDP has rocketed to $14.7 trillion, an increase of more than 1,000 times over the time of the founding of the republic. As the world’s second-largest economy, China contributes to 17 per cent of the world’s economy, and more than 30 per cent of global economic growth for several consecutive years. Adhering to the development concept of shared prosperity, China eliminated absolute poverty and overall regional poverty in 2020, and raised the living standards of its people, which is an outstanding historical contribution to human society. Being the world’s largest manufacturer, trader in goods and foreign reserve holder, China will continue to wholeheartedly strive for people’s happiness, national rejuvenation and common development for all countries, and contribute more wisdom and solutions to the reform of the global governance system.
Looking back, China and the UAE helped each other along the ancient Silk Road, shared weal and woe in the struggle for independence, and supported each other in the journey to development. At present, we are likeminded in terms of development strategies and goals, for example, the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping and the concept of revitalising the Silk Road proposed by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; China’s “Two Centenary” goals and the UAE’s “Centennial 2071 Plan”; the “Chinese Dream” of rejuvenating the Chinese nation and the “UAE Dream” of making this country among the best in the world; President Xi’s proposal of building a community with a shared future for mankind and the leadership of the UAE actively advocating tolerance and harmony.
Under the strategic guidance of the leaders of both countries, mutual trust has deepened, high-level reciprocal visits have become more frequent, economic and trade co-operation has achieved fruitful results, and cultural exchanges have flourished. Anti-pandemic co-operation has become a new highlight of bilateral relations. In the face of the sudden Covid-19 breakout, China and the UAE helped each other, setting a global example for co-operation in fighting the pandemic. What is most unforgettable is that the two countries have worked together in the world’s first Phase III international clinical trial of the Covid-19 inactivated vaccine. The recently launched vaccine filling production line in the UAE marks a new stage of co-operation in combating the pandemic.
At present, the China-UAE comprehensive strategic relationship is at its best in history. The UAE has shared the deepest, broadest and most fruitful co-operation with China among all Middle Eastern countries, and has become a model of co-operation between China and the Arab and Islamic countries that are based on mutual respect, pragmatic approaches, genuine friendship and win-win outcomes. In 2020, the bilateral trade volume reached $49.3 billion, an increase of 1.13 per cent despite the global down trend, demonstrating strong resilience and enormous potential in economic and trade co-operation between the two countries.
Under the initiation of the Hundred Schools Programme by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, there are 118 primary and secondary schools offering Chinese courses; the Chinese School Dubai was established as the world’s first full-time Chinese international school; and the plan to open a Chinese Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi is in progress. The two countries have continuously deepened co-operation in cutting-edge scientific and technological fields such as 5G communications, artificial intelligence, genetic technology, medical and health care, and modern agriculture.
In October, Dubai will host the first World Expo in the Middle East where the China Pavilion – called the “Light of China” – will make its grand appearance. In February, Beijing will host the 24th winter Olympics, making it the first city to host both the summer and winter games. I believe the two events will provide important opportunities to deepen China-UAE friendship and set up platforms to discuss humankind's shared destiny in the post-pandemic era.
What is not to be lost is time, and what is not to be missed is an opportunity, it is said. Witnessing the historical coincidence of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, we review and build on the past glories to open up new prospects for the future, and draw up blueprints for the development and co-operation of our two countries in the next 50 or even 100 years.
As the Chinese ambassador to the UAE, I hope for an even brighter future for the two great countries, and that I make greater contributions towards fostering the same. May China and the UAE prosper, our peoples enjoy happy and healthy lives, and our friendship last forever.
Ni Jian is the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE