The friendly relationship between the People's Republic of China and the State of Qatar has witnessed rapid growth since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1988. All achievements are owing to the wise leadership and farsighted guidance by top leaders as well as joint efforts of peoples on both countries. Through their exchanges and dialogues, HE Chinese President Hu Jintao and HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani have expressed their strong willingness to attach great importance to raising our bilateral ties onto a new high based on equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. Together with Qatar as one of the most important partners in this whole region, we are working closely together for better future.
Exchanges of top level visits have been growing. Vice-president Xi Jinping paid a successful official visit, the first time ever, to Qatar in June 2008 with fruitful talks with HH Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. He was honored to have meeting with HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Both sides are committed to facilitating dialogues and cooperation between leaders as well as exchanges between peoples at all levels to strengthen the base and trust of our relations. Dozens of agreements were signed. Two months later in August Beijing was happy to receive HH Heir Apparent the deputy Emir, who attended opening ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games. Earlier in the same year HE the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani visited China, which substantially helped to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields. New high level visits are always on top of our agenda in bilateral relationship. The close ties between top leaders, we both believe, not only serve well our bilateral cooperation, but also prove indispensible to join our efforts as seen over all past years in maintaining regional as well as world peace and promoting common prosperity.
Bilateral trade has been growing steadily and experiencing impressive leap over the last few years. In 2008, the total amount has reached USD 2 billion in favor of Qatar. We have also become important partners in investment, energy, construction, petrochemical industry and many other fields. Potential for future cooperation is encouraging with more institutions setting up offices or branches in each other's capital or other cities. Both sides are seeking for more business opportunities and long term cooperation.
The Chinese people are great admirers of brilliant Arab and Islam civilization. Both sides are ready to have more and closer exchanges in cultural, art or educational fields. Bilateral Cultural Exchange Implementation Plan was sighed last year. Performing events held in Doha such as the Chinese Ethnic Costume Show and Xinjiang Singing and Dancing Group visiting show made great success. Ministries of Culture of both sides have been engaged in dialogues to enhance their cooperation. The Chinese artists are ready to make their contribution in participating in 2010 Doha Arab Capital of Culture. In education field, China and Qatar have offered more scholarship programs assisting students to pursue their study in our universities. Great potential in tourism is also being tapped. There are more visits by journalists, scholars or professors, which promote academic and media exchanges helping to enhance our mutual understanding and bring our people closer together. Friendly military exchanges are also making progress. General Liang Guanglie, State Councilor and Defense Minister of China, paid a successful official visit to Qatar late last year.
China and Qatar are both in a stage of rapid development. We are striving hard for each of our national modernization and share greater common interests in tackling challenges and seizing opportunities in this fast changing world. Looking into the future, the Chinese government and its people have full confidence for greater achievements in joining hands with the Qatari government and its people to enhance our friendship and cooperation in maintaining world peace and security and for common prosperity in the years to come.
(Source: National Day supplement of Gulf Times)