On January 15, 2012, visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdullatif al-Zayani in Riyadh. Both sides agreed to speed up negotiations over the free trade zone between the two sides.
Setting up the free trade zone will boost trade and economic cooperation between China and the GCC, enhance their overall relationship, and have a positive influence on the whole world, Wen said. China is willing to adopt a strategic and holistic approach and make joint efforts with the GCC to seize current opportunities, strengthen consultation and reach an agreement as soon as possible, he noted.
The GCC has promoted mutual understanding and trust with China through exchanges of views on major issues in recent years, which has facilitated the rapid development of the overall China-GCC relations, Wen said. As the impact of the global financial crisis widens, China will step up communications and coordination with the GCC to jointly face up to the challenges and better maintain mutual interests, he added.
For his part, al-Zayani said smooth development of relations with China and fruitful economic cooperation and trade are conducive to the efforts of the GCC members to tide over the financial crisis and maintain stable economic growth. The GCC and its members view relations with China from a strategic perspective and appreciate the important roles that China has played in regional and international affairs, said al-Zayani. The GCC will enhance strategic dialogue with China, shore up coordination, and push for an early success in negotiations over the free trade zone, al-Zayani said. The GCC will expand cooperation with China in trade, investment, energy and cultural exchanges, and make contributions to world peace and development, he added.