On Oct.1, we will celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. First of all, I would like to extend warm congratulations and sincere greetings to the Chinese people working and studying in the Kingdom, and express heartfelt thanks to the friendly leadership and people of the Kingdom for their care and support for the development of China and China-Saudi relationship.
Over the past 63 years since the founding of New China, especially since China implemented the policy of reform and opening up more than 30 years ago, China has made remarkable achievements in economic development. China’s GDP reached RMB 47.1 trillion Yuan (US$ 7.2 trillion) in 2011 and its foreign exchange reserve reached US$ 3.24 trillion in June, 2012, ranking second and first respectively in the world. Thanks to an increasingly open market, China’s total trade volume was the second largest in 2011. Meanwhile, China is also faced with the challenges of maintaining sustainable economic development and having the economic achievements benefit all the people.
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Saudi Arabia. Over the past two decades, despite the complex and profound changes of the regional and international situations, China-Saudi strategic friendly relations maintained the momentum of rapid development, and bilateral cooperation in various fields has yielded fruitful results. China and Saudi Arabia have had frequent exchanges of high-level visits, which served to enhance mutual political trust. Both leaders have been attaching great importance to the development of China-Saudi relationship. With a view to deepening mutually beneficial cooperation and safeguarding the common benefits of the two peoples, both countries took full advantage of these high-level visits to promote mutual understanding and trust, broaden and deepen bilateral cooperation in all fields and continuously advance China-Saudi relationship to new high.
Economic, trade and energy cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia is fruitful. Saudi Arabia has remained the largest trading partner of China in West Asia and Africa for ten consecutive years. China-Saudi trade volume reached US$ 64.4 billion in 2011. China has also become the largest trade partner of Saudi Arabia and a steady export market of Saudi crude oil. Bilateral cooperation in infrastructure construction has produced fruitful results, and bilateral financial cooperation and mutual investment enjoy broad prospect.
Bilateral exchanges in culture, science, technology, education and religion have also increased steadily. In recent years, more and more students from China and Saudi Arabia went to study in each other’s country. There are over 1200 Saudi students in China and about 270 Chinese students in the Kingdom now. From 20 to 28 September, a delegation of Saudi youths went to China to participate in the third China-Saudi Youth Forum. China will be the guest country of honor of 2013 Janadriyah Heritage and Cultural Festival, which will further promote mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese and Saudi people.
A few days ago, we also celebrated the 82nd anniversary of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a diplomat in the Kingdom, I was honored to share the special joy with the Saudi people. Through their smiley faces, I could see the social stability and economic prosperity in the Kingdom, as well as their obvious pride of being Saudis. The remarkable achievements of the Kingdom are closely related to the leadership of the Saudi government, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in particular. Although I have been here for less than one year, I can really see the big strides made by the Kingdom in economic and social development. Ten years ago, there were only a few universities in the Kingdom, but now there are more than twenty, with many others under construction. The average life expectancy of the Saudi people has been 76 years old now. Saudi Arabia has played an increasingly important role in regional and international affairs, and won widespread praise from international community. We are glad to see these achievements of the Kingdom, and wish the Saudi people further progress under the leadership of King Abdullah.
At present, the international and regional situations are undergoing complex and profound changes, which exert significant influence on the relationship between countries. We believe that relationship between countries should be based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence. They should respect and learn from each other, and promote common development by strengthening cooperation. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China bears the responsibility of maintaining world peace and development. We firmly support the peace, stability and development in the Kingdom, and also stand firm for the maintenance of peace and stability in the Middle East. China and Saudi Arabia are both at the key stage of self-development. We are willing to work together with Saudi Arabia to further deepen bilateral strategic friendly relations, promote economic and social development of both sides, and jointly build a bright future of China-Saudi relationship.