china arab forum 2024 (1)

Written by Muhammad Mudassir 6:30 pm Articles, Current Affairs, International Relations, Published Content

The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum: A Symbol of Multilateral Relations

The 10th edition of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) took place on 30th May in Beijing, China. The increasing influence of China in the Gulf region poses a significant challenge to the United States’ strategic interests and bilateral relations.
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Mr Muhammad Mudassir is a student of Bachelors of Science in Defence and Strategic Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad.

The rise of China and the resurgence of Russia are leading the world to multipolarity. The rising influence of China in the Gulf has gained significant attention from scholars and policymakers as it is the most volatile region. With a major role as a mediator in the Iran-Saudi Arabia détente, China’s approach contributes to stability in the Gulf region.

In September 2004, after Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) was established. In 2018, China further increased its cooperation with the Arab League by framing them in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) initiative.

The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) aims to strengthen cooperation and discuss regional issues. It is the only multilateral forum between China and the Arab League consisting of 22 nations as a unified body. The Foreign Minister of the countries meet after every 2 years.

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The 10th edition of the China-Arab forum was held on 30th May 2024 in Beijing, China, marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the forum. Presidents Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Kais Saied of Tunisia, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates were present at the forum.

Mohamed Salem Ould Merzouk, the Minister of Mauritania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, and Mauritanians Abroad, and Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China‘s (CCP) Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs, jointly chaired the conference. The conference was attended by the Secretary General of the Arab League governments and foreign ministers of the Arab governments.

The meeting agenda was dominated by the conflict in Gaza, with both Chinese and Arab leaders showing deep concern over the prolonged conflict in Gaza and the catastrophic human suffering. President Xi and all the Arab States also stressed for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

President Xi Jinping stated that China is strongly in favor of Palestine having full membership in the United Nations as well as an independent state with full sovereignty based on the 1967 boundaries and East Jerusalem as its capital. He also called for an international peace conference on the conflict in Gaza.

“Since October the Palestinian-Israel conflict has escalated immensely resulting in the large-scale suffering of people. War should not continue indefinitely. Justice should not be absent forever.” Said President Xi Jinping. Furthermore, he announced 500 million yuan ($69 million) in emergency humanitarian aid and an additional $3 million for the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA).

The future of BRI was also discussed at the summit, and all the states stressed the importance of BRI in shaping China-Arab relations. President Xi said, “The Silk Road spirit is passing from generation to generation, strengthening China and Arab relations”. Moreover, he focused strictly on strong economic cooperation with the Arab states and called for increased cooperation in trade in various sectors such as oil and gas.

The Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi said that the Chinese and Arab States will continuously expand the flow of technology, capital, products, and personnel to bring together people from the two sides. The 2024 China-Arab forum adopted two major documents: “The Beijing Declaration” and “The Action Implementation Plan”.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in a statement said that the Beijing Declaration reviewed ways to promote the building of a China-Arab community, boost bilateral cooperation between the two sides, and stress the common position to resolve regional disputes. The declaration also addressed issues like climate change and artificial intelligence.

The Action Implementation Plan laid the framework to boost Chinese-Arab collaboration in various fields including economy and politics. “As an Arab saying goes, friends are life’s sunshine. To uphold the spirit of China-Arab friendship, create a better future, and pave the way for an Arab-Chinese community with a shared destiny, we will keep cooperating with our Arab allies,” said President Xi Jinping.

The Gaza conflict was the core topic of discussion along with further economic and political discussions at the 2024 China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. The participation of the heads of the states of the major Arab countries shows the flourishing China-Arab relations. This summit exhibits China’s soft power approach which emphasizes diplomatic tools as seen in Xi’s speech on the peaceful resolution of the Palestinian conflict, rather than a partisan approach of arming one state against another.

Moreover, the trade volume between China and the Arab states has significantly increased. China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) reported that the total amount of commodities traded between China and Arab League members increased by 820.9 percent from 303.81 billion yuan in 2004 to 2.8 trillion yuan (about 393.75 billion US dollars) in 2023. Furthermore, the growing cooperation between China and Arab States might result in the de-dollarization such that Arab states may opt to join BRICS as well.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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