China is deeply shocked at the incident in Houla: Envoy |
Arab News - 03 June, 2012
Chinese Ambassador to Riyadh Li Chengwen told reporters yesterday that China was deeply shocked over the massacre in the Syrian town of Houla and condemned in strongest terms the killing of innocent civilians including women and children.
Speaking at a press conference in Riyadh, he added his country has demanded a thorough investigation into the incident and punishment for those responsible. Chengwen was also briefing the media on the achievements of the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation (CASCF) Forum in Tunis. He discussed the latest developments in China-Arab and China-Saudi relations.
He said the incident in Houla underscores once again the urgency of realizing a full cease-fire and ending the violence in Syria.
“In order to maintain the momentum of political resolution and avoid escalation of the crisis, the international community should further urge parties concerned in Syria to fully implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions and (former UN Secretary-General Kofi) Annan's six-point proposal, cooperate with the UN Supervision Mission, stop all acts of violence and take concrete measures to protect civilians with a view to easing tensions and resolving the issue through political means as soon as possible,” he added.
The envoy explained China has been following closely developments of the situation in Syria. He said Annan is engaged in active mediation, and the UN Supervision Mission has been fully deployed in Syria. However, conflicts and terrorism attacks in Syria are continuing.
It is the basic norms of international relations, peace and stability in the Middle East and long-term interests of Arab people that China has been safeguarding and protecting, he claimed. He added China pursues a pragmatic policy on the Syrian issue, actively promoting peace through dialogue, holding dialogue with both the government and the opposition and maintaining close contact with all parties concerned.
He reaffirmed that China and the Arab countries share the same aim on the Syrian issue. He claimed Arab countries appreciated the efforts of China in resolving the issue through political means, and that his country was willing to make joint efforts with the Arab countries to resolve the crisis in an appropriate manner.
A strategic action plan to identify priority areas for China-Arab cooperation in the next two years will underpin a joint effort to promote their relations in that direction.
The action plan is being formulated against the backdrop of their strong close economic and trade relations. “China and Arab countries are willing to further expand and upgrade two-way trade,” he said, adding that over the past decade China-Arab trade has witnessed an average annual growth rate of more than 30 percent. Both sides have decided to lift trade volume from $ 195.9 billion in 2011 to $ 300 billion in 2014, further increase mutual investment, and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in infrastructure construction and energy.
The envoy disclosed that China will provide training to 5,000 Arab people from all walks of life within three years. China is willing to conclude negotiations on the China-GCC Free Trade Agreement so that it can be signed as soon as possible, he added.
Referring to the action plan, he said mechanisms such as the Entrepreneurs' Conference, Investment Seminar and the Conference on Energy Cooperation have provided the two sides with new platforms for practical cooperation. Thus, despite the severe impact of the international financial crisis, economic cooperation and trade between China and Arab countries have continued to grow, he added.
He said the friendship between China and the Arab world is rooted in their long historical ties that have withstood the test of time and always stayed vibrant. Both civilizations have learned from each other and jointly made important contributions to the development of mankind, he added.
In the past 50-plus years, China and Arab countries have supported each other in fighting for independence, safeguarding state sovereignty and realizing national rejuvenation, he claimed.
“We have forged a strong bond between us. China-Arab relations have grown rapidly in the new century. In particular, since the establishment of the new type of partnership between China and Arab countries and the inception of the CASCF, our cooperation has continuously improved in mechanisms, expanded in scope and become more fruitful on the ground. This has greatly enhanced the friendly China-Arab relationship, taking it to a completely new stage of development,” the ambassador added.
The two sides have further strengthened their mutual trust at a political level. China firmly supports Arab countries in exploring development paths suited to their own national conditions. Chengwen said China is committed to advancing the peace process in the Middle East. “We also support Arab countries in upholding their lawful national rights. Arab countries have also given China valuable support on issues related to China's major interests and concerns,” he added.
“China and Arab countries will establish and improve trade relief cooperation mechanisms, strengthen coordination and cooperation in the IMF, World Bank and WHO, and develop cooperation on finance and banking. Both sides also reached a consensus on strengthening exchanges and cooperation in environmental protection, anti-desertification, agriculture, tourism and human resources development.”
He said both sides reiterated the importance of promoting mutual understandings between Chinese and Arab people through dialogue, and have decided to continue holding the Conference on China-Arab Relationship and China-Arab Civilization Dialogue. China-Arab cultural and arts cooperation mechanisms will be further improved.
He said China will hold the Silk Road Cultural Forum every two years and arrange the Silk Road Cultural Tour every year in Arab countries. Both sides decided to enhance cooperation in press and publication, science and technology, medical and health care, education, parliament and civil exchanges, sports, Chinese and Arab classics translation, cultural heritage and protection of nonmaterial heritage.