Interview with His Majesty King Abdullah II

Su Xiaopo
Xinhua News Agency
28 October 2007

Xinhua: Your Majesty, you will soon visit China. What are your expectations and the main objective of this visit? This is the fifth time you have visited China. Could you please describe your impression of the country? During all these journeys, what has impressed you most?

King Abdullah: I am looking forward, first of all, to meeting His Excellency President Hu Jintao, many of the officials of his government and His Excellency Wen Jiabao. One of the things I hope to discuss with President Hu and his team is the importance of focusing on the creation of a strategic relationship between China, Jordan and the wider Middle East. We are living in a moment where building extensive international partnerships is critical for developing countries to succeed in their efforts, and I see tremendous scope for us to work together for the benefit of our respective development efforts and for our mutual security.

As you've noted, I've visited China frequently since I assumed my duties, and every time I come I am awed by the changes I see and the pace of progress in your country. The discipline and focus with which China has pursued development is very much admired in my part of the world.

Xinhua: This year is the 30-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Jordan and China. Could you make a general comment on the relationship between the two countries? How do you view the prospect of the relationship and the cooperation between the two sides in all fields?

King Abdullah: Yes, this is a milestone year in our relationship, and we will be celebrating that during my visit. We in Jordan are very pleased that, in recent years especially, our ties have grown warmer and deeper in nearly every field, and I think that this visit is going to result in a couple of new agreements that reflect the momentum in our relationship. [[I understand that the Jordan Investment Board will open an office in Beijing and that in Jordan, we will soon see the opening of the China Development Bank, both of which speak to the scope of potential for cooperation in many, many fields, especially among our respective private sectors.]]

I should add that China is one of Jordan's most important development partners, and we are extremely grateful for Chinese support and cooperation in field as diverse as information and communication technology development and socio-economic development projects. In fact, despite our different sizes, we have many challenges and concerns in common, especially when it comes to socio-economic development, but also including energy security, trade issues and many others. These are areas where we can share knowledge and support each other developmentally.

In addition to being a development model to many in the Middle East, China's voice as an international leader is very much respected here, and the role your country plays in advancing peace and security in our region and beyond is highly valued. So we also share some fundamental values when it comes to issues of security, especially fighting terrorism and concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation, for example.

So I fundamentally believe that there are bridgeheads to a much more comprehensive relationship between Jordan and China and, in fact, a broader strategic relationship between the Arab world and China.

Xinhua: During the visit to China in 2004, Your Majesty took time to watch the Asian Football Cup match in which the Jordanian football team took part. It seems that you enjoy sports events. What is your suggestion and expectations for the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing next year?

King Abdullah: I always look forward to every Olympic Games as a showcase of athletic excellence, but next year, I believe there will be a lot of additional excitement around the world just because China is hosting the games. Millions of people every day read about China's extraordinary growth and progress, and for many people, the Olympics are going to be a window into China, its culture and its contemporary achievements in many areas. I have no doubt that China will make the upcoming games one of the most memorable in history.

Xinhua: As far as we know, one of Your Majesty's sisters was studying Chinese language and literature in Shanghai's Fudan University. Is that your suggestion? Why did you suggest her to do so?

King Abdullah: My sister, Princess Rayah, has had an interest in the Oriental language and culture, as do all members of my family, and appreciates the value of intercultural dialogue. She is tremendously involved in building bridges of understanding between Jordan and China at the academic, cultural and social levels

Xinhua: Your Majesty has always said that the core problem in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Could you review Jordan's active efforts to build Israeli-Palestinian peace? What are your views and expectations for the upcoming Middle East peace conference?

King Abdullah: The establishment of a viable independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure Israel is key to regional stability and security. We try to play a constructive role whenever we can. This year, for example, we joined the other Arab states in reaffirming our commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative as a framework for the resumption of peace negotiations. We have also worked with other Arab states to build support for this initiative in other Muslim states, and I should add that in this we have been quite successful. We also are in regular contact with states that are directly involved in the peace process - especially the members of the Middle East Quartet - to urge them to support the process and to highlight the risks to global security and stability if this conflict is allowed to drag on much longer. We reach out to peace activists in the Palestinian territories, in Israel and in the US so that they will feel encouraged to urge officials to find a negotiated settlement. They must make their voices heard so that their leaders will have the confidence they need to move forward and take bold decisions, without being tyrannised by those with radical agendas.

This is especially important right now, I might add, because the peace meeting to be hosted by the US provides an important opportunity. The international community is working very hard to make sure this happens. The US Secretary of State was recently in the region, as was Tony Blair, who now is the Quartet's envoy to the Middle East. They are trying to help the parties get onto the same page. We appreciate the work they are doing, and what we've been hearing back from the US, the EU, the Quartet, has given us some reason for optimism. What we hope is that the international meeting will have concrete results. We mean an agreement in principle on the final-status issues that will set the agenda for negotiations and a clear timeframe. All of these will convince the people of the region that the parties are seriously committed to peace and that an end to this conflict is in sight.