The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) is “extremely important” as it has been actively promoting cooperation and coordination between China and the Arab world, said Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki on Monday.
He made the comment during an interview with Xinhua ahead of the eighth ministerial meeting of the CASCF to be held Tuesday in Beijing.
The Palestinian minister stressed the achievements of the CASCF, the most important of which is the increase in the volume of trade exchange between the Arab countries and China.
The bilateral trade rose from about 37 billion U.S. dollars at the initiation of the forum to some 191 billion dollars in 2017, making China the second largest trading partner of the Arab countries, he said.
“Holding the CASCF on a regular basis opens the way for further trade and non-traditional aspects of the Chinese-Arab relations,” Maliki said. “We have pursued the aspirations of the two sides to increase trade volume to 600 billion dollars under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.”
The CASCF was launched for the first time in 2004 and have held seven ministerial meetings and 14 sessions at the level of senior officials to enhance the long-standing Arab-Chinese friendship.
It was initiated in the opening years of the new millennium, after Chinese-Arab friendship and cooperation witnessed a steady growth that led to its formal formation in 2004, co-launched by China and the Arab League, of which 22 members had already established diplomatic relations with China.
Since then, the forum has become a key mechanism for both China and the Arab world to improve their mutual understanding and cooperation in all fields.
Maliki pointed out that Palestinian-Chinese relations have witnessed a remarkable development, and stressed the importance of the timing of the forum for the Palestinian side in the light of important developments in the Palestinian cause.
“It is a chance to reaffirm the Palestinian stance on the peace process,” Maliki revealed, stressing that Palestine will highlight during the forum that the practices of current U.S. administration violated international laws and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and have made the United States a part of the problem rather than a solution.
The Palestinian minister said he looks forward to discussing with China the international efforts to support the Palestinian people’s aspirations to achieve independence and establish their state on territories occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Maliki praised the Chinese support to Palestine on the political, economic, development and educational levels.
He said he is also looking forward to discussing the potential and opportunities of cooperation between Palestine and China to serve the common interests of the two sides.
The Palestinian foreign minister reiterated the Palestine’s appreciation of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting its importance to all parties and the role it may play in providing promising opportunities for the sustainable economic development of all peoples in the region.
The Belt and Road Initiative reflects China’s will to present a model inspired by the history, with the vision of a bright future based on peace and stability, he added.
Maliki said he hopes that Palestine would be an important passage under the initiative linking Africa and Europe, pointing out that the important geographical location of Palestine on the Mediterranean Sea and between Africa and Asia makes it an important hub for the initiative.
“This can lead to Palestine’s prosperity and development,” he said.
He added that Palestine can be a center for marketing Chinese products, especially in the field of electronics and information technology.
“We have all the readiness and willingness to cooperate with China in this great project to develop our relations,” Maliki said.