Gong Xiaosheng, Former Special Envoy of China on the Middle East Issue and Specially-appointed Researcher of CARC, was Interviewed by Qatar's Mainstream Media, Motherland News


Gong Xiaosheng, former special envoy of China on the Middle East issue and specially-appointed researcher of CARC, was interviewed by Qatar's mainstream media, Motherland News.

1. Q: Ambassador Gong Xiaosheng, as former special envoy of China on the Middle East issue, what do you think of the relationship between Qatar and China? What are the most prominent characteristics of China-Qatar relations?

A: The relationship between China and Qatar is strategic. Qatar is an important supplier of Chinese LNG. There are many common interests between the two countries, like between China and Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and other Gulf countries. This reflects the importance of the Arab and Gulf countries to China. Therefore, the two sides should make great use of the investment opportunities of both sides to achieve mutual benefit. China needs Arabs to provide energy and natural gas. China can provide Arabs with many things they need, such as, technology and experience in the field of infrastructure, construction of production bases, and experience in building small projects. In addition, the two sides have made significant progress in their cultural, tourism and educational exchanges. The mutual visa exemption policy for citizens of China and Qatar has deepened the exchanges between the two sides and provided them with the convenience of traveling to the other country at any time. The relations between China and Qatar have reached a very high level and are constantly developing.

2. Q: Whats the importance of small projects in the development process?

A: No one can ignore the importance of small projects. The role of small projects in achieving economic development is remarkable. In addition, small-scale projects have made outstanding contributions on solving unemployment and helping young people to start businesses. China can play a key role in this regard by providing its existing modern technology in various projects, especially in the Guangzhou area.

3. Q: What do you think of Qatar's development experience, and how similar is it to the Chinese model?

A: Let me answer from the end of your question. The common characteristics of the development experience of the two countries, in general, lies in their strong will and determination to succeed. This is what Qatar and China have in common. Both countries have successfully achieved their respective goals and achieved national rejuvenation, but the real difference between the two sides lies in their ability to transfer this development model or apply it to another environment. On this basis, China's experience may not necessarily suit the environment of the Arab countries due to its particularity and its own environment, so it is not necessary to replicate it. Qatar's successful experience, because of the same Arab environment, may be applicable to another Arab country, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and even North African countries.

4. Q: Qatar will host the World Cup for the first time in 2022. What do you think of this event?

A: This is a great historical moment in the lives of the Qatari people. Because Qatar will become the first country in the Middle East to host and organize the World Cup, this is very important. With its reputation, Qatar has become a model of success, and other countries should benefit from its excellent experience. We hope that Qatar will have great success in hosting the 2022 World Cup.

5. Q: As the former special envoy of China on the Middle East issue, what prompted China to establish this position?

A: China started to set up a special envoy post on the Middle East issue in 2002, which coincides with the Arab Peace Initiative. China is very concerned about the ME regional affairs and always expresses concern over the escalation of the regional crisis. China is willing to play a greater role by supporting international efforts and seeking diplomatic and political solutions to all issues, because stability and development cannot be achieved by force.

6. Q: What have you learned from your experience as a special envoy for the Middle East issue?

A: Since I became China's Special Envoy for the Middle East issue in 2014, due to the importance of the Middle East, we have been promoting the Arab Peace Initiative in accordance with China's position. I am often asked questions such as what role the Chinese can play. I have always stated that, as a special envoy for the Middle East, we cannot do things that are not beneficial to others, but our role is basically limited to providing assistance, not to convey any instructions or orders to anyone. So we don't instruct anyone to do it, or not to do it. We tell our Palestinian brothers that we support their choice and goal. If the Palestinian people have any choice or strategy, they will find that we support them at any time. This is our principle, our original intention, and it is still maintained.

7. Q: In your opinion, why was the Arab Peace Initiative in Beirut in 2002 blocked?

A:Based on my past experience of working in the diplomatic field for more than 40 years, it can be said that big countries have responsibilities on this issue. The great powers must recognize that peace is the only option and way to achieve world stability. Past experience proves that wars between many countries which lasted for years have caused huge losses. Dialogue is the real way to achieve stability and development. Some people may be surprised that we call on the countries in the region to improve relations with China and the United States, but in fact we advocate dialogue and we pursue world peace and stability, which is the principle we followed in opening up. This is also in line with the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by our President Xi Jinping a few years ago. The Belt and Road Initiative has received positive responses from other friendly countries.

8. Q: What is your hope for the Belt and Road Initiative?

A: In fact, the Belt and Road Initiative is a huge and magnificent century project. The initiative calls for the revitalization of the ancient Silk Road, which extends from Asia to Europe. The initiative will broaden the prospects for international cooperation and realize the interests of both parties based on the win-win principle. This is China's highest and fundamental goal, which is to bring benefits to the world.

9. Q: What do you think of Qatar's position in the Belt and Road Initiative?

A: Qatar is one of the first countries to announce its support for the Belt and Road Initiative, and it is also a founding member of the Asian Investment Bank that China initiated under the “Belt and Road” framework.

10. Q: What is China's position in the Gulf crisis?

A: As we all know, the Gulf region and Gulf countries are very important to China because of their abundant energy resources and important strategic locations. The two sides have a long-standing cooperative relationship due to the ancient Silk Road. For a long time, the two sides have worked hard to promote the common interests of the two sides through trade agreements. The Chinese are eager to maintain calm and stability in the region, and within the Gulf states a peacefully negotiated solution to the Gulf crisis has been provided since it occurred in 2017. Therefore, China supports all efforts and initiatives to resolve conflicts among the Gulf states.

11. Q: In your opinion, how important is the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum?

A: The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum was established in 2004. After 15 years of its establishment, we can say with certainty that this is one of the most important cooperation mechanisms between China and the Arab countries. Every meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum will achieve new achievements. The two sides have achieved results in various areas of trade, economics, politics, and culture. This has effectively deepened the strategic cooperation between the two sides, especially at the political level, effectively coordinated common positions and supported each other. For many years, the Arab countries have clearly stated their support for China on certain regional issues.

12. Q: What do you think of the importance of the 19th Doha Forum?

A: We believe that it is not just us, everyone believes that the Doha Forum is very important to the entire world. Because the Doha Forum provides policymakers with the opportunity to discuss with the thought leaders, experts and scholars on the Middle East issues concerned by us, people need to work together to find emergency solutions and look forward to the future.

13. Q: What makes people anxious about the future?

A: The reason for this is the uncertain trend and the instable current situation. This has raised concerns about the current situation and fear of the future. People need to understand the outcomes of various issues, especially those related to Palestine, which is a top priority for Arab countries.

14. Q: What is China's position on this?

A: We Chinese consider ourselves friends of the Arabs, so we share the sorrows of the Middle East with them. We are equally worried about the situation they are worried about. We are willing to work with Arab countries to find a solution to the Palestinian issue on the basis of justice in accordance with relevant laws and international treaties and restore the Palestinian people's rights.

15. Q: Do you think it is too late for China to appear on the Middle East stage?

A: There is a saying,  Late better than never. Maybe some people thought that the Middle East is far away and China can not be affected by Middle East affairs. But later it became clear that the Middle East is a regional neighborhood, and everyone, including Chinese, will be affected by the situation in the region, especially because of the abundant energy supply, and LNG is its pillar industry. So what happened in the region had a very rapid impact on the Chinese economy. To this end, it is necessary to work together with other countries around the world to find solutions to the problems and crises.

16. Q: Please comment on the importance of the Doha Forum as a platform.

A: I think the importance of the Doha Forum is that, people talk directly to each other so that each side can listen to the other's ideas without deviating from the original meaning of the expression or falsifying the facts. Prior to this, such a phenomenon occurred from time to time, people rely heavily on Western media to obtain information and news, especially between China and Arab countries. Therefore, the annual Doha Forum has found a solution to this problem, which is beneficial to China-Arab relations. Having direct dialogue and exchanging ideas is the best way to find solutions to issues of common concern to people, and to build partnerships with collective interests.