China-Arab states expo focus on trade, sci-tech cooperation
Cao Jianming reads a congratulatory letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping and delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the fourth China-Arab States Expo, Sept. 5, 2019. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)
The fourth China-Arab States Expo opened Thursday in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, focusing on economic, trade, science and technology cooperation.
The four-day event features trade fairs and forums on infrastructure, Internet plus healthcare, high technology, modern agriculture, logistics, tourism, the digital economy and industrial cooperation, attracting about 12,600 participants from 2,900 regional organizations, commerce chambers, associations and enterprises in 89 countries.
Cao Jianming, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said at the opening ceremony that achievements had been made in the China-Arab cooperation in areas of infrastructure, energy, economic and trade parks, high technology and finance.
He called for concerted efforts from both sides to pursue the Belt and Road Initiative and make bilateral cooperation benefit more people.
Stressing the long history of the China-Arab friendship and cooperation, Boydiel Houmeid, vice president of the National Assembly of Mauritania, said with the steady growth of economic and sci-tech strength of both sides, there is huge potential for bilateral cooperation in various areas.
The expo was sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the regional government of Ningxia. Inaugurated in 2013, the biennial event has become an important platform for China and Arab countries to jointly pursue the Belt and Road Initiative.
China-Arab economic and trade cooperation has gained steam in recent years. Last year, the bilateral trade volume between the two sides reached 244.3 billion U.S. dollars, jumping 28 percent year on year.
Chinese enterprises signed 35.6 billion dollars of new project contracts in Arab countries in 2018, an annual increase of 9 percent, while direct investment from Chinese companies in Arab countries totaled 1.2 billion dollars, involving sectors such as energy, infrastructure and manufacturing.
EXPAND COOPERATION IN TECHNOLOGY
More than 500 attendees from diverse sectors from countries including China, Egypt and Morocco, attended the 3rd China-Arab States Technology Transfer and Innovation Cooperation Conference, part of the ongoing China-Arab States Expo.
Huang Wei, vice minister of Science and Technology, said the idea of science, technology and innovation cooperation under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative has been put into practice and has been blessed with great achievements, which include increased cultural and people-to-people exchange, building of a Belt and Road international scientific organization alliance with participation of more than 40 countries and regions, as well as construction or consultation on science and technology parks in countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, including Arab countries.
Doaa Khalifa, the minister plenipotentiary of the Secretariat of the League of Arab States in Egypt, said China and Arab countries have worked together to build joint laboratories, and China's science and technology and vocational education have benefited Arab countries.
Many Arab students, officials and technicians have access to training opportunities in China, which are conducive to cooperation between the two sides in the fields of science and technology and research, Khalifa said.
At the conference, China shared its advanced technologies in diverse fields including smart agriculture and water-saving irrigation systems, and also signed 10 deals of science and technology cooperation with several Arab countries, such as the construction of joint laboratories and big data service platforms.
PRODUCTION CAPACITY COOPERATION
Deals for 23 projects on production capacity cooperation, worth about 8.5 billion yuan (about 1.2 billion U.S. dollars) in total, were signed Thursday at a conference during the expo.
The projects cover various fields such as new energy development, photovoltaic cell production and rare metal processing and involve a number of Arab countries including Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Mauritania, according to the organizer of the conference held in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Ren Hongbin, China's assistant commerce minister, said at the conference that China-Arab cooperation in production capacity has been advancing steadily, particularly in the areas of energy, manufacturing, electricity and telecommunication.
While describing the China-Arab States Expo as an important platform for China and Oman to cooperate in trade and investment, Yahya bin Said bin Abdullah Al-Jabri, chairman of Oman's Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development, said Oman has actively participated in the Belt and Road Initiative in recent years and has built the China-Oman (Duqm) Industrial Park in cooperation with China.
INTERNET PLUS HEALTHCARE
As a part of the expo, an international conference on Internet plus healthcare held on Friday, where government officials, academics and entrepreneurs from China and Arab countries reached a consensus that the two sides should deepen cooperation in using Internet technologies to improve medical services.
"The health of people around the world is still facing serious threats and challenges," Mao Qun'an, head of the planning and informatization department of China's National Health Commission, said at the event, adding that China is willing to work with Arab states to promote pragmatic cooperation in Internet plus healthcare for the benefit of people from both sides.
So far, China has signed cooperation documents in healthcare with 13 Arab League countries and launched a spate of cooperative projects in areas of disease prevention and control, public medical system construction, traditional medicine and talent training, according to Mao.
Mahmoud Hassan Elamin, director of the Representative Office of the Arab League in Beijing, said at the conference that Internet plus healthcare is the new area of the China-Arab cooperation.
He said online medical services and artificial intelligence can help people from less developed regions in Arab countries who still have to travel far to big cities for better medical treatment.
China issued a guideline in April 2018 to enhance the role of Internet plus in medical care, calling for the use of Internet technologies to improve the quality of public health services. Ningxia is building the country's first Internet plus healthcare demonstration zone, including a big data center and a healthcare industrial park.BOOST AGRI-TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
During the expo, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has entered into agreements with Pakistan, Kenya, Morocco and Uzbekistan on building four overseas centers for agricultural technology transfer.
This comes after similar overseas agricultural technology transfer centers have already been established by Ningxia in Mauritania, Kyrgyzstan and Jordan over the years following the inauguration of the China-Arab States Agricultural Technology Transfer Center in 2015 in the northwestern region.
Of the four new centers, the one based in Kenya will focus on promoting technologies on standardized poultry breeding and integrated poultry disease prevention and control.
The Uzbekistan center will carry out integration, demonstration and promotion of new facilities, equipment and technologies for modern agriculture, as well as two-way training and exchange activities for agricultural scientists and technicians.
The center in Morocco will run pilot and demonstration programs on fishmeal processing and production as well as the processing and trade of other aquatic products.
The Pakistan-based one will focus on grain planting and processing and promote advanced agricultural technology as well as agricultural management and production modes from Ningxia.