ABU DHABI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a three-day official visit at the invitation of president Xi Jinping of China.
Sheikh Mohammed, also Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, will hold meetings to promote the development of friendly relations and cooperation with China.
He and Chinese officials will discuss issues of mutual, regional and international interest.
Sheikh Mohammed on Sunday took in some of China’s most famous tourist attractions, including the Great Wall.
“I am pleased today to visit one of the world’s most remarkable landmarks that reflects the values of hard work, perseverance and determination,” he wrote in the visitors’ book.
“I would like to express my admiration and appreciation for the people of China and their rich culture. I wish further progress to our relations, built on strong friendship and deep-rooted links.”
Accompanying him was Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, Chief of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, and Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, first female Speaker of the FNC.
Sheikh Mohammed said that strengthening relations with China was a key strategy under the leadership of the President, Sheikh Khalifa.
The two countries share ambitions to further develop ties, he said, calling the visit an opportunity to deepen and expand their cooperation and partnership.
Sheikh Mohammed also visited Emirati students at local universities and colleges.
He was briefed on the academic progress of the students, encouraged them to continue working hard, and highlighted the role Emiratis play when studying abroad in representing the UAE.
The visit to China also offered a chance to consolidate links that have been based on a strong foundation of friendship, mutual understanding, respect and common interests since the era of the Founding President, Sheikh Zayed, who visited the country in 1990.
Sheikh Mohammed said relations between the UAE and China have developed rapidly since diplomatic relations were established in 1984.
The following year after ties were formed, bilateral trade hit US$63 million (Dh231.3m).
Three decades on and the UAE is China’s largest trade partner in the Middle East, with trade this year expected to reach $54.8 billion.
More than 200,000 Chinese expatriates call the UAE home, with almost 500,000 visiting the country last year.
With this strong connection, Sheikh Mohammed’s visit comes at a critical time, said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State.
During the visit agreements in finance, investment, logistics, energy, education and technology will be signed, Dr Al Jaber said.
› Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister, posts a side-by-side image of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and UAE Founder Sheikh Zayed at the Great Wall of China, on Instagram: