UAE-China ties are entering a new and historic era, says envoy

Co-operation in efforts to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic has built on strong links in trade, commerce and culture

BEIJING, CHINA - July 22, 2019: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (2nd L), attends a reception hosted by HE Xi Jinping, President of China (L), at the Great Hall of the People.

( Mohamed Al Hammadi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs )

The UAE's ambassador to China has said ties between the countries have entered a new and special era.

Ali Al Dhaheri said historic relations stretching back centuries had been reinvigorated through mutual respect and co-operation, state news agency Wam reported on Monday.

Speaking to mark the launch of the four-day China-Arab States Expo in Yinchuan, north-west China, Mr Al Dhaheri said the way both countries tackled the Covid-19 pandemic was a good illustration of their flourishing relationship.

The UAE began administering the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine early in the pandemic and it now makes a locally produced version of the shot.

"Due to the changes and challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE has harnessed its logistical capacities to help manufacture and distribute Chinese vaccines," Mr Al Dhaheri said.

"We aim to deliver 18 billion doses to Arab countries and the rest of the world by the end of the year."

Formal ties between the UAE and China were established in 1984. This was followed six years later by a historic visit to China by Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father.

Images from the trip show Sheikh Zayed visiting famous sites such as the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City.

In 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a state visit to the UAE and relations between the countries were strengthened to become a "comprehensive strategic partnership", Wam reported.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, visited China the following year.

Links in commerce, culture and tourism have only continued to flourish.

The UAE has joined China's Belt and Road initiative, a major global infrastructure development strategy, and is a founding member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Mr Al Dhaheri said the UAE accounted for 28 per cent of the non-oil trade between China and Arab countries, amounting to more than $50 billion, while more than 6,000 Chinese companies operate in the Emirates.

In 2019, it was estimated that about 200,000 Chinese residents called the UAE home. Dubai is also home to Dragon Mart, the world’s largest Chinese trading centre outside mainland China.

More than 60 per cent of China’s trade with West Asia and North Africa passes through the UAE.

"[This] has proven to be another golden era for China and the Arab region and the greatest model of Emirati-Chinese ties," Mr Al Dhaheri said.

UAE and China in Covid-19 vaccine cooperation - in pictures

Updated: August 23rd 2021, 8:46 AM