- Chinese ambassador says the Kingdom offered support at ‘the critical time’
Lojien Ben Gassem
RIYADH: “The saying ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ has become the best footnote of the friendship between China and Saudi Arabia,” Chinese Ambassador Chen Weiqing told Arab News, reflecting on the bilateral relationship between Saudi Arabia and China, and how it strengthened after the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The ambassador said the two countries had offered each other assistance and staunch support. “At the critical time, when the Chinese people were striving to win the battle against COVID-19, the Saudi Arabian government and people, from all walks of life, have voiced support and offered assistance to China in various ways,” he said.
“According to King Salman’s instructions, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center actively provided the Chinese side with much-needed medical supplies, which were a huge spiritual support and of important material assistance for frontline Chinese medical workers, and have played a positive role in China’s effective control of the virus.”
Chen said that since the outbreak, Chinese President Xi Jinping and King Salman had spoken three times on the phone, and the two countries had carried out high-level cooperation in COVID-19 prevention and control. “I believe greater progress and development of bilateral relations will be achieved after the pandemic,” he added.
In April, China and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement worth SR995 million ($265.29 million) to face COVID-19, according to Chen, providing 9 million nucleic acid tests for Saudi Arabia and setting up laboratories in six major areas in the Kingdom. “Relevant cooperation between the two countries has played a positive role in controlling the pandemic and reducing the peak number of cases,” he said. “China is willing to continue to maintain close cooperation with Saudi Arabia on pandemic prevention and control, and fully supports the Saudi people to defeat the virus at an early date.”
China also sent a team of medical experts to the Kingdom to support and help fight COVID-19, as China was the first country to report cases of the disease to the world. The ambassador pointed out that Chinese experts believe Saudi Arabia is experienced and well-prepared to deal with COVID-19, and that it is fully capable of controlling the pandemic.
“Health officials and experts from the two countries held online exchanges before the Chinese medical experts departed for Saudi Arabia,” he said. “The actions of China and Saudi Arabia have shown that the only correct choice is to work together to fight the pandemic, and unity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons.”
The ambassador said that Xi held telephone talks with King Salman to emphasize the importance of anti-pandemic cooperation, especially cooperation in vaccine research and development. “We will work together with our Saudi counterparts to implement the consensus of the two heads of state and redouble our efforts to bring benefits to the two peoples and the people of other countries as soon as possible,” he said.
He stressed that solidarity and cooperation are the only way for countries around the world to conquer the pandemic. “Saudi Arabia, in the capacity (of the) G20’s presidency this year, plays an important leading role in strengthening global cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. China stands ready to work with Saudi Arabia to safeguard world peace and stable development, promote global economic recovery in the post-pandemic era, maintain the stability of global industrial and supply chains, and carry out cooperation in new technologies and new industries, including health care and (the) digital economy.”
In celebrating Saudi Arabia’s 90th National Day, Chen congratulated King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi government and its people. “This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Saudi Arabia,” he pointed out. “Thanks to the concern of both leaders and the joint efforts of both countries, China-Saudi Arabia relations have gained notable development achievements.
“No matter how the international landscape may change, China always takes Saudi Arabia as a good friend, a good partner and a good brother, and sticks to maintaining and developing the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Saudi Arabia.”