China is likely to replace EU as 1st trade partner to GCC in 3 yrs — expert

DOHA, May 21 (KUNA) — China is the second trade partner of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states following the European Union, and it is likely to be the first one within two or three years, said an expert in Sino-Arab relations on Saturday.
Timothy Niblock, an Emeritus Professor of Middle East Politics, University of Exeter, United Kingdom, made the statement during the Arab and Chinese conference kicked off earlier today, in the Qatari capital, with the participation of about 40 researchers.
He, however, noted that it is still unclear how the GCC countries would benefit from the wider coordination and cooperation network currently built by China within the framework of the initiative of Belt and Road.
Gao Youzhen, a former Ambassador and Diplomat with posts in Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Oman, the UAE, and Qatar, and a Middle East specialist, focused on Arab Chinese cooperation and similarity of stances, referring to China’s supportive stances to the Arab causes, mainly the Palestinian one.
He noted that the Arab countries have supported directly China in various issues.
Wu Bingbing, a senior research fellow of the Institute for International and Strategic Studies (IISS), said that China’s policies towards the Middle East based on interest and principles at the same time.
He added that China’s interests include enhancing cooperation with GCC states in many fields and implement the initiative of the Belt and Road so as to increase trade exchange and investment, and to combat extremism.
He noted that China’s policies also are based on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in domestic affairs, and the peaceful solution of disputes. He said that the establishment of Arab-China Cooperation Forum in 2004 and the initiative of Chinese President on the Belt and Road are key steps towards promoting relations and upgrading cooperation, calling for intensifying visits and deepening cooperation in energy for this purpose. (end)

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