On the afternoon of February 11, 2009, Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdul Rahman Al-Attiya in Riyadh. Both sides held in-depth discussion on enhancing China-GCC relations and reached new consensus.
Hu spoke highly of the positive progress made in GCC’s integration development and its important role in safeguarding regional security and ensuring stability of international energy markets. Hu said recent years have witnessed substantial development of China’s relations with GCC and its member countries, with increasing high-level visits and mutual political trust, rapidly growing trade and energy cooperation and fruitful collaboration in the fields of investment and infrastructure construction. GCC has become an important trade and energy cooperative partner of China.
Hu pointed out that in the face of the severe challenges posed by the international financial crisis, it is of greater significance for both sides to enhance cooperation. China has always dealt with its relations with GCC and its member countries from a strategic perspective and hopes that both sides will work closely to improve the group cooperation mechanism. To this end, President Hu raised a four-point proposal. First, launch China-GCC strategic dialogue mechanism and give full play to its role to keep closer bilateral coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs. Second, further improve the cooperation mechanism. "The establishment of a China-GCC free trade area is in the fundamental and long-term interests of both sides and will help deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation and achieve common development," Hu said. China will work actively toward signing the relevant agreement at an early date," Hu said. He urged both sides to continue energy dialogue and jointly ensure the stability of global energy markets. He also called for cooperation between both sides in non-energy sectors. Third, strengthen investment and financial cooperation. Hu said businesses from both sides should be encouraged to expand mutual investment and participate in each other's infrastructure construction. China is ready to enhance financial coordination with GCC member states to jointly deal with the adverse impact of the global financial crisis. Fourth, expand cultural and educational exchanges and engage in inter-civilization dialogue. Both sides should actively participate in various cultural exchange events held by the other side and continuously consolidate the social basis of their friendship.
Al-Attiya echoed Hu's four-point proposal on the development of bilateral ties, saying that recent years have witnessed rapid growth of the economic and trade relations between China and GCC member countries, especially that of bilateral trade volume. Despite the challenges posed by the international financial crisis, the GCC member countries have maintained sound economic growth and there are a lot of opportunities for both sides to develop partnership in investment, trade and other areas. GCC hopes to establish a closer trade relationship with China and strengthen cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). He expressed hope that both sides will accelerate the process of negotiations on the establishment of a China-GCC free trade area and work for its early completion. GCC hopes to launch bilateral strategic dialogue mechanism as soon as possible and comprehensively enhance the relations between both sides. Al-Attiya also appreciated China’s important role in promoting inter-civilization dialogue.
Both sides also exchanged views on the Middle East situation and other major international issues.
On the afternoon of the same day, President Hu called on the staff of the Chinese Embassy in Saudi Arabia and representatives from Chinese-funded institutions. In the evening, President Hu gave an interview to Saudi state television.
Ling Jihua, Wang Huning and Dai Bingguo attended the above activities.