China: Sincere and Close Partner of Islamic Countries

Ma Xinmin
Chinese Ambassador to Sudan

In the past week, Muslims in China and Sudan celebrated the Corban Festival, also known as Eid al-Adha. From north and south of the Tianshan mountains in Xinjiang to the Niles in Sudan, from Niujie, an ethnic, cultural street in the capital Beijing, to the world’s hottest capital city Khartoum, our Muslim brothers and sisters celebrated the festival with their traditional practices, enjoying themselves in a happy and auspicious atmosphere. Not long ago, United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet traveled to Xinjiang during her visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese government. In Xinjiang, she saw firsthand the outcomes of China’s endeavors to respect and ensure Muslims’ freedom of religious belief. As a sincere and close partner of Islamic countries, China has been committed to its policy on Islamic countries featuring four basics as below.

I. Advocate mutual respect and mutual trust, and pursue solidarity and coordination. China and Islamic countries share a longstanding friendship. Both sides enhanced mutual understanding and affinity on the ancient Silk Road, stood by each other in our fight for national liberation, pulled together in the shadow of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, and upheld moral justice in the process of multi-polarization. We always firmly support each other on issues involving our respective core concerns and in defending national sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, independently exploring a development path befitting our national conditions and safeguarding our legitimate development rights and interests and the common interests of the developing countries at large.

On the Palestinian issue and the Afghanistan issue that are of top concern to the Islamic world, China’s support has never been hesitant or absent. China stands firmly with the Palestinian people. China supports an early, more authoritative, and representative international peace conference based on the two-state solution to promote a comprehensive and just settlement of the Palestinian issue. China respects the choice of the Afghan people, and supports Afghanistan’s efforts to usher in an inclusive political structure and moderate governance and open a new chapter of peace and reconstruction.

China will never forget that when Algeria and other countries jointly tabled a resolution at the UN, nearly 30 Islamic countries firmly supported it, carrying China into the UN. Over the years, certain Western countries have made attempts to suppress China’s development out of their selfish interests. They fabricated the so-called Xinjiang problem and hyped up repeatedly the so-called “forced labor”, “genocide” and “religious persecution”, doing everything to distort China’s policies on ethnic and religious affairs and misrepresent the social development in Xinjiang. Committed to an objective and just position, the vast majority of Islamic countries including Sudan have sponsored multiple joint statements on Xinjiang-related affairs to support China on such occasions as the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. With concrete actions, they voiced their firm support for China. The Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also made friendly remarks about China in multiple resolutions, noting that it looks forward to enhanced cooperation with China. Through two field trips by its delegations and a virtual visit to Xinjiang, the OIC gives full recognition to the Chinese government’s endeavors to ensure the rights of Muslim believers and speaks highly of China’s preventive counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts.

China places great emphasis on its relations with Islamic countries. In March this year, State Councilor Wang Yi was invited to the OIC session, marking the first time that a Chinese foreign minister has attended such a session. This shows China’s desire to further deepen cooperation with Islamic countries. As important members of the big family of developing countries, China and Islamic countries will remain united, pool the strength for common progress, practice true multilateralism, and drive the unity of developing countries as a whole. This will bring greater stability and positive energy to the world.

II. Advocate mutual benefit and win-win results, and pursue common development. China and Islamic countries have always been committed to partnership in pursuing development and rejuvenation. It was in Islamic countries that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) came into being. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt in Kazakhstan and then the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road in Indonesia, which indicates that the BRI has taken shape. To date, China has signed the BRI cooperation documents with 54 Islamic countries and launched approximately 600 large-scale projects worth USD400 billion. The cooperation has delivered real benefits to the people of China and Islamic countries. What’s more, the Global Development Initiative (GDI) proposed by President Xi Jinping has been warmly received by Islamic countries. More than 41 Islamic countries expressed support, and 25 of them have joined the Group of Friends of the GDI.

Facing the sudden onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Islamic countries have stood together and looked out for each other. At the height of China’s fight against the virus, leaders of Islamic countries expressed sympathy and solicitude for China. Their governments and people gave China to support and assistance in various forms. After Islamic countries were hit by COVID-19, the Chinese people had great empathy for them and China has provided 1.3 billion doses of vaccines and a large number of supplies to 50 Islamic countries. Additionally, China and Islamic countries have carried out extensive cooperation in COVID-19 response, including conducting the world’s first Phase III clinical trial of inactivated vaccine, collaborating in vaccine production, and researching and developing anti-COVID-19 drugs. Both sides have played an important role in the global fight against the pandemic.

Today, both China and Islamic countries face the formidable task to defeat the virus and revitalize economic development. Both sides will remain staunch practitioners of and contributors to global development, and work together to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, implement the GDI and achieve the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to better satisfy the aspiration of the people of China and Islamic countries for a better life. China will continue to join hands with the Islamic world to combat COVID-19, contribute to sustainable economic recovery and advance the building of a global community of health for all.

III. Advocate common security, and pursue peace and stability. Islamic countries have suffered immensely from the scourge of conflict and war. Both China and Islamic countries are victims of terrorism. As peace-loving nations, we are opposed to hegemonism and power politics and committed to peace and tranquility for humanity. At present, the combined threat of regional wars, terrorism, and extremism has resulted in grim challenges and more uncertainties in the global security landscape. In response to malicious attempts of certain Western countries, including fanning the flames in regional conflicts and applying double standards in counter-terrorism affairs, China and Islamic countries champion the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security, advocate the settlement of disputes by peaceful means through dialogue and negotiation and independently assess situations based on the merits of the issue. We oppose unilateral sanctions without basis in international law, resist double standards in fighting terrorism, and reject associating terrorism with any particular ethnic group or religion. Standing on the right side of history, we have boosted the strength of the international community to achieve a ceasefire and maintain peace.

Facing a volatile world, China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the security and stability of the Islamic world, support Islamic countries in enhancing their security capacity, and deepen cooperation on preventive counter-terrorism and de-radicalization to meet security challenges together.

IV. Advocate mutual learning, and pursue common progress. The Chinese and Islamic civilizations share many common values. The two major civilizations have drawn wisdom from each other for a long and bloomed in the garden of world civilizations with the message of “peace, harmony, creditability and truth” in mind. We vigorously advocate equal-footed dialogue, exchange, and mutual learning among civilizations, to resist “civilization profiling” and reject such notions as the superiority of certain civilizations and clash of civilizations. As Western countries hype up Islamophobia, some Western media brainwash people with a deeper level of hatred and prejudice toward Muslims. In response, China and Islamic countries proposed at the UN General Assembly a resolution to set March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. We will work with all parties to end hate speech and Islamophobia.

Despite an escalating clamor for the clash of civilizations, China and Islamic countries will continue to stay on the right track. We will continue to carry forward the common values of humanity featuring peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom, advocate and promote equal-footed dialogue, and reject the practice of stoking division and confrontation by drawing ideological lines, thus maintaining the diversity of civilizations of the world.

There is ancient Chinese teaching: All good principles should adapt to changing times to remain relevant. Standing at the new historical starting point, China is ready to work with Islamic countries to cement our partnership through upholding unity and coordination, advancing development and rejuvenation, promoting security and stability, and enhancing mutual learning among civilizations, in a bid to lift our relations to new heights with bigger development. There is no doubt that China and Islamic countries will make greater contributions to promoting multipolarity in the world, democracy in international relations and diversity of human civilizations, and to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

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