China plays big­ger role in Mid­dle East

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHAO SHENGNAN and MO JINGXI

Ever since China’s new lead­er­ship emerged last year, the coun­try has been play­ing a big­ger role in try­ing to re­solve key re­gional is­sues in the Mid­dle East, ob­servers said.

Such ef­forts will con­tinue, es­pe­cially when break­throughs are likely, as was the case with the de­struc­tion of Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of an in­terim Ira­nian nu­clear deal and the cre­ation of a po­lit­i­cal roadmap for an Egyp­tian pres­i­den­tial elec­tion this year, they said.

“China’s voice in key re­gional is­sues is greater than be­fore. China has put for­ward de­tailed propo­si­tions last year to re­solve them and gained recog­ni­tion there. This was rare be­fore,” said Yao Kuangyi, for­mer Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Tur­key.

He said China can help the tur­moil-rav­aged coun­tries re­build their in­fra­struc­tures and of­fer hu­man­i­tar­ian aid for the many dis­placed peo­ple, as po­lit­i­cal chaos in West Asia and North Africa, start­ing with Tu­nisia, has lasted for more than three years.

The re­marks came af­ter For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi’s in­ter­view with Al Jazeera, in which he said China’s po­lit­i­cal role in the Mid­dle East “will only be en­hanced, not di­min­ished”.

“China’s all-round role will grad­u­ally and more vis­i­bly be felt by Arab coun­tries, and will get their un­der­stand­ing and sup­port,” Wang re­cently said in the TV in­ter­view, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from the for­eign min­istry on Thurs­day.

The in­ter­view, broad­cast on Wed­nes­day, came weeks af­ter Wang con­cluded his first of­fi­cial visit to the Mid­dle East since be­com­ing Bei­jing’s top diplo­mat in March.

Wang vis­ited Pales­tine, Is­rael, Al­ge­ria, Morocco and Saudi Ara­bia from Dec 17 to 26, mark­ing the first visit to

The po­lit­i­cal re­form and tran­si­tion in some Mid­dle East coun­tries are not easy, but sta­bil­ity is what all par­ties, in­clud­ing China, want to see.” WU SIKE CHINA’S SPE­CIAL EN­VOY TO THE MID­DLE EAST

Is­rael by a Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ter since 2009.

Call­ing Wang’s visit a “rare high-level visit”, Is­rael’s Jerusalem Post said that China his­tor­i­cally has not taken much of a role in the con­flict, but in re­cent months “it has sig­naled an in­ter­est to be­come more closely in­volved”.

“It is true that Chi­ne­seArab co­op­er­a­tion in re­cent years has mainly fo­cused on the eco­nomic field. That is be­cause we be­lieve that de­vel­op­ment holds the key to and serves as the foun­da­tion for solv­ing all prob­lems,” Wang said.

China’s trade vol­ume with Arab states in 2012 was $222 bil­lion, a 13.5 per­cent in­crease from 2011. China is also a main im­porter of the re­gion’s crude oil.

Wu Sike, China’s spe­cial en­voy to the Mid­dle East, said re­la­tions be­tween China and the Mid­dle East are not only about en­ergy or economies.

“The po­lit­i­cal re­form and tran­si­tion in some Mid­dle East coun­tries are not easy, but sta­bil­ity is what all par­ties, in­clud­ing China, want to see,” he said. Con­tact the writ­ers at zhaosheng­nan@chi­nadaily. and mo­jingxi@chi­

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