The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation began its 14th summit on 31 May, 2019, in the city of Mecca. Since China has a Muslim population of 23 million, spread across a number of minority nationalities (in order of size: Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Uzbek, Tajik, Tatar, Kirgiz, Salar, Dongxiang and Bonan), China too is focused on cooperation with Muslim-majority countries. In that light, Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the summit, with significant responses – as this Xinhua News article indicates:
Experts in the Islamic world spoke highly of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s message on enhancing cooperation between China and Islamic countries.
Xi sent a congratulatory message on Friday on the opening of the 14th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Saudi city of Mecca.
In his message, Xi said China attaches great importance to the friendly relations with Islamic countries and looks to the OIC as an important bridge for cooperation between China and the Islamic world.
Xi also said that China stands ready to work with the Islamic countries to enhance political mutual trust and promote practical cooperation and dialogue among civilizations, to jointly create a better future for the friendly ties between China and the Islamic world and to contribute to advancing the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Abdullah Al-Salloum, a Kuwaiti economist, said Xi’s message is “classic in diplomacy.”
“Xi’s message speaks of values that we all should encourage,” he said.
Iraqi political analyst Nadhum al-Jubouri said “China is a country that respect its commitments and abide by its neutrality.”
He said the message shows the Chinese president’s “wisdom and successful leadership.”
Improving relations, mutual understanding, support and cooperation is “the best way to serve the interests of the Islamic peoples and Chinese people,” al-Jubouri said, stressing closer ties between Islamic countries and China are also important for the global development with the spirit of “tolerance, brotherhood and peace.”
He called upon Islamic countries to cooperate more with China, and expressed the wish that China will further support Islamic countries and help them overcome economic crises.
Al-Jubouri hailed the Belt and Road Initiative as “a brilliant idea,” saying it shows China’s determination to support other peoples within balanced relations of mutual trust in order to create “a harmonious and interactive world that believes in common destiny and better future.”
Adnan Abu Amer, head of Department of Political Science and Media at Ummah University in Gaza city, said China can help find out appropriate solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli issue.
“The most important thing is that China believes in the principle of partnership, understanding and friendly relations far more than control,” he said.
The large trade volume between China and Islamic countries determines that China would care much about what happens in the region, said Samy Kamhawy, an expert in Chinese affairs from Egypt’s largest daily newspaper Al-Ahram.
He said that the OIC needs to promote cooperation between the organization members and China through international deals and joint work.
He believes China will have a unique role to play among the Islamic countries, as it could work as a mediator to help settle problems that occur from time to time among Islamic countries.
“China … can play a big role via its diplomatic policies to help reduce the differences and ease the tensions in the region,” Kamhawy added.
Nasser Bouchiba, president of the Africa-China Cooperation Association for Development, said: “I would like to remind you that respect is a cultural characteristic in China, and this has always been observed since the beginning of exchanges with Arab and Muslim traders back in the eighth century.”
Bouchiba said President Xi’s message on the OIC summit is therefore “a continuation of China’s great esteem and respect for the Muslim world.”