Significant Visit and Important Strategic Direction

  • 17 August 2009

The visit to China by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is of great significance as it points to an important strategic approach and a dynamic UAE foreign policy. The great hospitality accorded to His Highness shows the high esteem in which China regards the UAE, and its keenness in strengthening and developing relations at all levels. This also illustrates Beijing’s admiration of the UAE as being a model of development for the Middle East and the world.

The UAE’s orientation towards China falls within a broader strategic approach towards East Asia and the newly emerging powers, and is important for a variety of reasons. First, China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and wields considerable influence in directing the course of global events. It also has a remarkable experience in the field of development and boasts of a strong economy, which is estimated to be among the fastest growing in the world and is seen as having recovered quickly from the impact of the global economic crisis. Second, the current economic and trade relations between the two countries can prove to be a basis for further developing and deepening the strong political and strategic ties. Indicators point to strengthening economic and trade relations between the UAE and China. Trade between the two countries rose to about $28 billion in 2008, which in 2003 stood at only $4 billion, thus registering 35% to 40% annual growth. In addition, UAE remains the largest market for Chinese exports in the Middle East, as thousands of Chinese companies are operating within the UAE.

Third, China is evincing keen interest in developing and expanding its relations with the UAE, as well as with the Gulf region and Arab world. This is evident from the frequency of diplomatic visits and the high rate of political, trade and economic cooperation between the two sides, in addition to China's desire of forging a free-trade agreement with the GCC; as well as through the establishment of China-Arab Cooperation Forum in 2004. Within the framework of strengthening its Arab and Gulf relations, China is focusing on building its influence, particularly with a qualitative leap in Arab-Chinese relations, with the UAE being at the forefront of its efforts in this regard.

Fourth, the features of Chinese foreign policy are in line with the fundamentals of the UAE’s policies, such as mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs of other states, peaceful resolutions of problems and significant attention to economic relations between nations and communities; which in turn strengthen relations between the two countries to move forward.

UAE’s diplomacy has proved over the years as having a remarkable capacity to deliberate and plan its moves across the world, moving toward more diversified options and strategic interaction with various regional and international powers, which has helped the UAE gain the world's respect and secure the support of the world over its national issues. There is no doubt that His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s visit to China is one of the most important manifestations of the success of the UAE’s foreign policy, its efficiency and ability to achieve the higher national interests at all levels.