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Xi comments on China's financial support for Middle East

Xi comments on China's financial support for Middle East

Chinese President Xi Jinping is aiming to revive economic growth in the Middle East after pledging a package of $20bn in loans and more than $100m in financial aid.

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By Charles Bliss 11.07.2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping is aiming to revive economic growth in the Middle East after pledging a package of $20bn in loans and more than $100m in financial aid. Xi said that the move is part of China’s “oil and gas plus” model, which is central to its continued desire to ramp up engagement in the region.

Xi met with Central and Eastern European leaders earlier this week to talk about investment and has now turned his attentions nearer to home with a new package for Arab nations. The investment has ties with the President's signature “Belt and Road” initiative, which focuses on improving regional connectivity and trade routes between China and countries in Central and Southeast Asia.

The President spoke with representatives from 21 Arab nations in the Chinese capital on Tuesday and said that the latest development will play a major role in addressing the myriad of security problems that are prevalent in the Middle East. 

Xi also urged unity and greater cooperation to reduce risks. He added: “We should treat each other frankly, not fear differences, not avoid problems, and have ample discussion on each aspect of foreign policy and development strategy.”

Under the terms of the new proposal, China will offer $15m in aid to Palestine to boost economic development while providing an additional $91m to several other countries in the region, including Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Banks in China and Arab nations will also be able to dip into a dedicated fund of $3bn.

However, Xi stopped short of divulging details about the finer details of the relationship between the newly established banking consortium, financial aid and the wider loan package. He did say that the loans will aim to support an “industrial revival” and a process for creating a vision for economic change in the region.

The Israel and Palestine dispute has ramped up this year, but Xi urged “relevant sides” to tread carefully to respect the status quo and be fair and impartial in their actions and judgements to prevent any regional disruption.

China has not traditionally been an influential figure in any diplomacy efforts or conflicts in the Gulf, but it is now aiming to have more of a say in long-running disputes. It has sourced energy supplies from the Middle East for some time now and is becoming more eager to play a larger role in pressing affairs.

When dealing with developing countries to which it has provided either financial deals or aid, China is unlikely to waver from its “non-interference” policy, as it believes that this investment, combined with robust development in the region, does a better job of resolving any tensions or troubles, be they political, cultural or religious.

In other China news, enterprises in the country will face new naming restrictions that will prohibit them from using words such as “state”, “Chinese” and “China”.

New draft proposals posited by market regulators said that the use of these words goes against the best interests of “state and society” and should be subject to banning. A few other words included on the list are “central”, “international” and “nationwide”.

The proposals mainly focus on words and phrases that could deceive or mislead the public, influenced by a growing desire in China to cut down on the use of any language or imagery for sole commercial gain or entertainment purposes. This line of thinking extends to the misuse of popular historical figures and the national anthem, both of which also face a proposed banning.

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