Kingdom seeks ‘strategic partnership’ with ChinaKingdom seeks ‘strategic partnership’ with China

His Majesty King Abdullah prays at the Najiahu Mosque in Yinchuan, in the northwestern region of Ningxia, China, on Sunday (Photo courtesy of the Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday highlighted Jordan’s keenness to attract Chinese investments and tourists, and benefiting from China’s expertise in governorate development.

In an interview with China’s Xinhua News Agency, published Sunday during the King’s working visit to China, King Abdullah reflected Jordan’s commitment to building “a closer strategic partnership” with China and expanding bilateral ties in all fields, expressing appreciation for the positive role China has played in Jordan’s economy and in the Mideast peace process.

During the interview, the King also touched upon Jordan’s political reform process, stressing that the Kingdom supports a pluralistic political system and is seeking to “entrench a democratic culture in the community, by supporting social entrepreneurs’ efforts to build active citizenship” (see full text).

Highlighting this year’s January 23 elections, His Majesty noted that although there is still work to be done, Jordan is succeeding along the path of democratic reform and is seeking to establish a fully pluralistic political system.

Regarding the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, the King refused “any party’s monopoly over political life”, but noted that the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Islamist group, “is part of the political spectrum and social fabric, and Jordan does not adopt a policy of exclusion towards any group or political movement”.

On regional developments, the Monarch stressed that addressing the challenges of the region “depends on finding a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause, which is the central issue of the Arab and Islamic nations and the world at large”. Stressing the efforts that Jordan has exerted in achieving a lasting peace between Palestine and Israel, King Abdullah underlined the need to support US-led efforts to push forward the peace process towards solving the final status issues.

Regarding the recent crisis in Egypt, His Majesty pledged Jordan’s continued support to Egypt, adding that his visit to Cairo shortly after the July 30 developments in the country was meant to be a show of solidarity to the Egyptian people as they “seek to move their country forward and build their future and democratic society”.

The King reiterated Jordan’s calls for a political solution in Syria, noting that the Kingdom will “exert all efforts to reach Arab and international consensus over a comprehensive political solution to the Syrian crisis”, that will safeguard Syria’s territory and protect its citizens.

When asked about the recent allegations that chemical weapons are being used in Syria, King Abdullah highlighted that “Jordan is totally prepared to deal with all circumstances and security and relief-related developments, and stands ready to defend its land, people and national security”.

Reflecting on the vast number of Syrian refugees that have sought a safe haven in the Kingdom, the Monarch noted that providing shelter to the refugees in Jordan “is a humanitarian responsibility that we will keep fulfilling… [But] our success in that depends on continued international assistance”.

Regarding his upcoming visit to New York, where he will attend the 68th ordinary session of the UN General Assembly, King Abdullah noted that the assembly provides the Kingdom with a unique opportunity to expand upon the efforts Jordan has recently launched to “counter the wave of extremism feeding on sectarian tension and violence, and address the challenges faced by Arab Christians”.

Stressing Jordan’s role as a secure and stable force in the region, King Abdullah concluded that “Jordan continues to shoulder its responsibilities and play its pivotal role in promoting security, stability, peace and moderation in the region and the world”.

Also on Sunday, King Abdullah began his working trip to China with a visit to the northwestern city of Yinchuan, which has a large Muslim population.

While in Yinchuan, capital of China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the King met with Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and attended the first China-Arab States Expo, according to a Royal Court statement.

During the meeting, Zhengsheng presented a briefing on activities carried out in Yinchuan to enhance cooperation with Arab and Islamic countries, the statement added.

Discussions also covered Jordanian-Chinese ties and means to enhance them in various fields, especially in industry, trade and investment, where the King emphasised the advantages of Jordan’s economy for foreign investors in terms of incentives and a secure investment environment in the turbulent region, according to the statement.

The Monarch also voiced Jordan’s keenness on enhancing cooperation and trade exchange with China, calling on Chinese companies to utilise the investment opportunities in the Kingdom and contribute to its mega-projects in energy and water, the statement added.

The King also said that Jordan and China enjoy a deep-rooted friendship, indicating that Jordan by virtue of its geography has the ability to enhance China’s partnership with other Arab states, according to the statement.

The Monarch also expressed his admiration of the Chinese economic model, stressing at the same time the importance of utilising the Chinese expertise in achieving development in the Kingdom’s governorates and upgrading the services sector.

The meeting was attended by Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh, King’s Office Director Imad Fakhoury, Minister of Industry and Trade Hatem Halawani and Jordan’s Ambassador to China Yahya Qaralleh.

Other Chinese high-ranking officials as well as China’s Ambassador to Amman Yue Xiaoyong were also present at the meeting.

The King also attended the inauguration of the Chinese-Arab exhibition, which kicked off on Sunday and runs through September 19 in Yinchuan.

Bahraini King Sheikh Hamad Ben Isa Al Khalifa, a number of ministers and businessmen representing 20 Arab and Islamic states also attended the opening ceremony, the statement said.

The King toured the exhibition and visited Jordan’s pavilion, which showcases a variety of Jordanian economic projects and products and listened to a briefing by Jordanian businessmen on their role promoting the Kingdom’s products worldwide, the statement said.

The King also visited other Arab states’ pavilions in the exhibition, including those of the UAE and Kuwait as well as that of Yinchuan and other Chinese cities, and listened to briefings by representatives of Chinese firms on their latest technologies in energy and transportation, the statement added.

On the sidelines of the event, His Majesty held talks with King Hamad that focused on bilateral ties and the latest regional developments.

The King also visited the historical Najiahu Mosque in Yinchuan and performed prayers there with the accompanying delegation, the statement said.

The expo is jointly sponsored by China’s ministry of commerce, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the government of Ningxia. Its predecessor, known as China (Ningxia) International Investment and Trade Fair and the China-Arab States Economic and Trade Forum, has been held annually since 2010.

Ningxia is home to more than 10 per cent of China’s 20 million Muslims.

Jordan Times
September 16, 2013