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China, Saudi Arabia natural partners in advancing Belt and Road Initiative
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 30 - 09 - 2019

The year 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. On Oct. 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China was founded. The profound change in China over the past 70 years is a miracle in the history of human development.
For more than 100 years from the Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese people had suffered a lot. Wars of aggression launched by Western powers plunged China into an anguished state of turmoil and foreign threat. And the people, ravaged by war, saw their homeland torn apart and lived in poverty and despair.
The founding of the People's Republic of China marked the realization of peace, stability, and national independence of the country. Nevertheless, due to the devastating wars over a long time, the newly born China was still a backward and poor country with a weak foundation.
Over the past 70 years, however, China has developed into the world's second-largest economy, the largest industrial producer, the largest trader of goods, and the holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves. The living standard of people has seen considerable improvement, and the international status of China has risen to a new height.
"China has made it possible for the first time in human history to elevate the living standards by 100 times in a human being's life cycle, and also exerted significant impact on the world population and global economy", said Lawrence Henry Summers, the former Chief Economist of the World Bank. His remarks vividly epitomize the achievements of China over the past 70 years.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China 70 years ago, especially since the reform and opening-up 40 years ago, the Chinese nation has made a great leap forward — Chinese people have stood up, grown rich and become stronger.
From 1952 to 2018, China's GDP increased by 174 times. Especially since the reform and opening up in 1978, China's GDP has grown at an average annual rate of 9.4%, a world miracle of sustained and rapid economic growth.
In agriculture, China has not only fed more than 1.3 billion people on its own but also established a well-off society and achieved a transformation from material scarcity to material abundance.
In industries, China has become a country with all the industrial categories in the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities, with more than 200 kinds of industrial products ranking first in the world.
In the service industry, changes are being made every day in new technologies and new models such as e-commerce, data consumption, and modern supply chain. Mobile payment, shared bikes, express delivery and takeaways have made the daily life of people more and more convenient.
Economic structure has been further improved. In 2018, the proportions of the primary, secondary and tertiary industries were respectively 7.2%, 40.7%, and 52.2%, and consumption expenditure contributed 76.2% to economic growth.
Utilizing more foreign investments in an efficient manner, China has become an attractive destination for global investment. In 2018, non-financial foreign direct investment into China reached about $135 billion, 146 times more than in 1983, making China the world's second-largest country for foreign direct investment inflow for the second year in a row. China's non-financial outbound direct investment was $120.5 billion, 41.3 times more than in 2003.
Innovation capacity continues to soar. China's ranking in Global Innovation Index rose from 22nd in 2017 to 14th this year. China also came out No. 1 in the global patent applications and licensing, with leading status in manned spaceflight, high-speed railway, mobile payment, 5G, mobile network technology, artificial intelligence, quantum communications, and many other fields.
Cultural development has been thriving. At present, China ranks first in the world in terms of TV drama and book production, and second in film production. Since 2006, China's contribution to the world economy has always been the largest in the world.
It is worth mentioning that China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty over the past 70 years. By the end of 2020, China will have achieved the goal that the rural population living below the current poverty threshold will be lifted out of poverty.
And China will achieve its sustainable development goals in poverty reduction 10 years ahead of schedule. On the vast land of 9.6 million square kilometers, China would like to build a country without poverty, hunger, and displacement, with its 1.4 billion people living a happy life. This is the greatest contribution China has made to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the world.
What kind of path is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics?
How could these seemingly impossible tasks come true in China? The development path of China is garnering increased attention at home and abroad. The development path of China is to explore a path of development suitable for its national conditions under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and adhering to adapting Marxist principles to China's realities, that is, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is a path of political development rooted in Chinese history and culture, conforming to China's national conditions and drawing lessons from the achievements of human political civilization. It is not a "master copy" handed downed from traditional Chinese politics, nor a "second edition" of socialist practice in other countries, and also not a "replica" of Western-style democracy, but a "new version" of politics that has been explored, repeatedly compared and tested in practice for a long time.
The development of the People's Republic of China over the past 70 years has never been free of difficulties and challenges but has gone through surging waves one after another. The brilliant achievements over the past 70 years have been made indeed by the Chinese people, not by the generosity of others, not to mention the plunder of war.
China's path is a path of independence, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.
The continuous historical development of civilization in the past 5,000 years shows that the Chinese nation is a peace-loving nation, and the economic aggregate of China has long been the first in the world in history. Even in its heyday, China had never invaded other countries nor established any overseas colonies. Through the Silk Road, China brought silk, tea, and friendly exchanges and cooperation to the countries along the road. The gifts that Zheng He's seven voyages to the Western seas brought were not bullets and shells, but peace and friendship.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the country has always stuck to an independent foreign policy of peace, and will never seek hegemony no matter how far it develops in the future. A strong China is an important force in safeguarding world peace.
The Belt and Road Initiative is an international public product that China provides for the world.
The Belt and Road Initiative is proposed by China, but its fruits are shared by participating countries and the whole world. It not only promotes trade and people-to-people exchanges, but also enhances understanding among countries, and overcomes cultural barriers. Adhering to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the initiative aims to realize common development, and ultimately achieve peace, harmony, and prosperity.
The Belt and Road Initiative conforms to the trend of times and is in line with the overall objectives of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, so it is welcomed by all countries and is showing a strong momentum of growth.
So far, 135 countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and 30 international organizations have signed 193 cooperation documents with China to jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative.
People of all countries have the right to pursue a better life. China is willing to share its development experience with friends around world. Friendly countries are welcome board the express train of China's development, and work hand in hand to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and to achieve win-win results and sharing benefits.
China and Saudi Arabia are natural partners in advancing the Belt and Road Initiative.
We are pleased to note that, thanks to the care and guidance of the leaders of the two countries, the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Saudi Arabia has developed rapidly in recent years, with political mutual trust between the two sides continuously deepened. Both sides also support each other's core interests and major concerns.
China supports Saudi Arabia in achieving its Vision 2030 and is willing to be a partner of Saudi Arabia in economic diversification. During his meeting with Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman in Beijing in February this year, President Xi Jinping stressed that the two countries should strengthen the alignment of development strategies, deepen the integration of interests, speed up the signing of implementation plans on connecting the Belt and Road Initiative with the Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia, and push forward bilateral practical cooperation in energy, infrastructure, trade, investment and high value-added industries to achieve new results, as well as work together to press ahead with the construction of China-Gulf Cooperation Council free trade zone. Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman noted that the Arabian Peninsula is a part of the ancient Silk Road. Saudi Arabia supports the Belt and Road Initiative and hopes to align it with its Vision 2030 to deepen bilateral practical cooperation in various fields.
During The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in April this year, the China-Saudi Arabia Investment Cooperation Forum centered around the alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Saudi Arabia's 2030 Vision, and cooperation agreements with a total value of more than $28 billion were signed. We believe that, under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative, China and Saudi Arabia share broad prospects for cooperation across the board.
We have every reason to believe that with the in-depth alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Saudi Arabia will be developed in a stable and long-term way and benefit the people of the two countries.
— The writer is the Consul General of the People's Republic of China in Jeddah.

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