Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $91 million in aid to Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria and $15 million to Palestine to support economic development in a speech at the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) in Beijing in July.
The Chinese President made the aid announcement in remarks to Arab delegates to the eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing, an event underscoring China’s burgeoning ties with the region.
Twenty Arab foreign ministers attended the event, which is the eighth ministerial meeting for the CASCF since 2004. The forum seeks to enhance Chinese-Arab trade relations, and has boosted the bilateral trade volume from $37 billion in 2004 to $191 billion in 2017, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua. China has become the Arab world’s second-largest trading partner, it reported.
Beijing has ramped up engagement in the Middle East in recent years as Arab nations play an important role in Jinping’s signature Belt and Road foreign policy plan for strong trade routes linking China with central and southeast Asia. The Belt and Road Initiative is a network of trade routes, including railways, roads, pipelines and utility grids, being built to link China to central Asia and the Arab world.