Chinese ambassador to Qatar Zhou Jian has reiterated his country’s resolve to fight the pandemic together with Qatar and join forces for a just world order.
Excerpts from an interview with the ambassador on President Xi Jinping’s attendance at the 12th Brics Summit, 27th Apec Economic Leaders’ Meeting, 15th G20 Summit, and the whole gamut of bilateral relations.
Since the beginning of this year, world economy is facing with various difficulties and challenges. How do you view its current state?
At present, under the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world economy has fallen into deep recession. A second wave of the pandemic in many countries appears even more severe, casting a shadow on global economic recovery. Meanwhile, unilateralism and protectionism is on the rise, globalisation counters headwinds, hotspot issues remain complicated and difficult to resolve, and terrorism is still rampant, putting shackles on economic development.
According to the projection of international authoritative institutions, the global economy will contract this year by 4.4% and the volume of commodity trade by 9.2%. However, we should notice that the international community didn’t flinch from natural disasters; instead, people around the world tided over the difficulties by offering help to each other, lighting the darkest hour with courage, determination, and love.
How do you view the recent international conferences and what role did China play in these meetings?
In recent days, the 12th Brics Summit, the 27th Apec Economic Leaders’ Meeting and the 15th G20 Summit were held. These includes meetings of emerging economies, major economies of the Asia-Pacific, the most active region of the world economy, as well as meetings between the world’s major developed economies and emerging markets. Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the aforementioned meeting and delivered important speeches, attracting worldwide attention and appreciation. In the face of a global economic downturn and new challenges of global governance, the three meetings, though with different themes respectively, have all shared common places and sent a series of positive signals in areas of anti-epidemic cooperation, economic recovery, defending multilateralism, and improving global governance.
President Xi pointed out that while containing the virus, we need to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains, and facilitate cross-border flow of people and goods, and keep industrial and supply chains safe and open to better enable the resumption of business activities and economic recovery. China will step up to deepening regional economic integration, welcomes the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and will favourably consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). We will strengthen data security co-operation.
President Xi said that facing the choice between multilateralism and unilateralism, and between justice and hegemony, we must stand up for equity and justice in the world, we must hold high the banner of multilateralism, defend the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and endeavour to safeguard the UN-centred international system and the international order underpinned by international law.
China proposes the holding of an international conference on food loss and waste in due course, and welcomes the active participation of all parties.
I would like to stress that, as a responsible major country, China will always be a constructor of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of international order.
As the second largest economy in the world, the trend of China’s economy has great influence on the world economy. What is the prospect of China’s economy and what will its new development paradigm bring to the world?
In recent years, China’s economic strength has grown steadily including economic structure upgrading, contributing over 30% to world economic growth. Faced with the great impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the complicated domestic and international challenges, China has taken the lead to control the virus and resumes work and production on an all-scale. China will be the only nation to achieve positive growth in the world major economies, bringing hope to the world economic recovery
Recently, China held the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. The most remarkable achievement of the plenum is to pass the Recommendations of the CPC Central Committee for Formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for the Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Goals for 2035. The Recommendations draws the roadmap and timetable for the future development of China in five to fifteen years.
How do you view Qatar’s economic performance during the pandemic?
It has been one and half a year since I came to Qatar as the Chinese ambassador, and I am impressed by the openness, diversity and dynamism of the Qatari economy. Especially in the face of Covid-19 pandemic this year, under the great leadership of His Highness the Amir, Qatar has made major achievements in the pandemic prevention and control as well as economic development. In my view there are three highlights:
The first is to insist on “people first”. The Qatari Government always puts people’s life and health first, and has decisively taken strict prevention and control measures, treated every patient free of charge, and kept the mortality rate down to the lowest in the world. All these reflect Qatar’s values of humanistic spirit of revering life, which we highly appreciate.
The second is the effective response. The Qatari Government has introduced a series of measures including distributing QR75bn to support the private sector, increasing the liquidity of the market, reducing rent and utility bills, and removing tariffs on food and medicine. The swift and scientific decision-making has achieved obvious outcome in a short time, stabilising and boosting the economy, resuming work and production orderly. The IMF predicts that Qatar’s economic performance will be the best one among the GCC countries this year.
The third is a strong recovery momentum. Currently about 90% of the World Cup 2022-related infrastructure construction is complete. Qatar Petroleum has established QP Trading, overseas gas exploitation has seen frequently good news, and the world’s largest LNG fleet is ready for voyage. Qatar Airways has fully restored its operation to more than 145 destinations worldwide. Qatar’s trade surplus in the 3rd quarter rose by 26.4%, and its foreign exchange reserves repeatedly hit record highs. A series of cultural and sporting events have been held in Qatar. We can see a vibrant Qatar returning and becoming a highlight of economic recovery in the region.
What is your expectation for China-Qatar co-operation in the future?
Since the beginning of this year, the cooperation between China and Qatar has been moving forward against the pandemic, achieving remarkable results. In the first 9 months of this year, China’s exports to Qatar increased by 10% year-on-year, and it became the largest trading partner of Qatar. China and Qatar have signed a contract worth $3bn for the construction of LNG ships. Q-MAX, the world’s largest LNG carrier, made its maiden voyage to Tianjin in China. A few days ago, HE Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari attended the 3rd China International Import Expo.
An Arabic proverb says that no good sailors can be found in a calm sea. In the next stage, China and Qatar will work as good sailors striving ahead in the turbulent seas, and jointly promote bilateral co-operation with full power, sailing to a better tomorrow.
We will strengthen co-operation to fight against the pandemic. China will continue to share its experience with Qatar, jointly prevent the risk of pandemic rebound and seek to launch a “fast track” for personnel exchanges and a “green channel” for customs clearance at an early date, so as to provide a solid ground for the economic recovery of the two countries. We will also strengthen cooperation under the framework of the “Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation” (GAVI) to contribute to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.
We will work together in common development and revival. China is willing to work with Qatar to strengthen the synergies between the “Belt and Road” initiative and Qatar’s “2030 National Vision”, and will share its huge market and development opportunities with Qatar, deepen traditional cooperation in the fields of energy, infrastructure, investment, high-tech industry as well as new industries and new industries such as digital economy and E-commerce. We will together create an open, fair, just, and non-discriminatory business environment for both, contributing a constant driving force for our two countries to realise common development and revitalisation.
We will work to defend multilateralism. President Xi Jinping and His Highness the Amir share important consensus on safeguarding multilateralism and international justice. China will continue to support Qatar’s efforts to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and call on all parties concerned for a peaceful resolution of the Gulf crisis through dialogue and consultation.
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