Wang Yi At The Organization Of Islamic Cooperation: China Is Investing US$400 Billion In Muslim Belt And Road Initiative Projects
The OIC bloc includes 57 states over four continents and has a collective population of 1.9 billion
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been attending the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers meetings in Islamabad, stating that China is investing US$400 billion in over 600 BRI projects across the Muslim world.
The OIC is second only to the United Nations in size and has a membership of 57 states spread over four continents and a collective population of 1.9 billion. Some members, especially in West Africa and South America, are – though with large Muslim populations – not necessarily Muslim majority countries. A few countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Russia and Thailand, sit as Observer States. China was invited as a Guest this year at the request of the host, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
OIC full members include Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cot D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. Observer states are Bosnia & Herzegovina, Central African Republic, Russia, Thailand, and Turkish Cyprus.
The complete OIC session included several pressing political issues, including developments in Afghanistan and the humanitarian consequences for the Afghan people and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Several African issues, including the situation in the Republic of Mali, the Sahel region, and Lake Chad, the fragility of that region, and the situation in Central Africa and the Republic of Guinea are on the agenda, while at the Arab level, the foreign ministers will discuss the developments in Yemen, Libya, the Republic of Sudan and Somalia, Syria, and other regions. The annual meeting also discussed cooperation issues with international partners, the United Nations, Russia, and the European Union.
Wang touched on several regional issues during his speech, including support for Palestine, reference to the Kashmir & Jammu dispute between Pakistan and India, support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and a desire for peace between Russia and Ukraine. In addition he commented on four key principles of cooperation:
“First, to be partners of solidarity and coordination. We should firmly support each other in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, in exploring development paths suited to our own national conditions, and in safeguarding our legitimate development rights and interests, as well as common interests of the vast number of developing countries.
Second, to be partners of development and revitalization. We should continue to fight the pandemic in solidarity and build a defense line for people’s health. We should strengthen the synergy between development strategies, take the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and the joint implementation of the Global Development Initiative as the “twin engines”, consolidate traditional cooperation, foster new highlights, help China and the Islamic world develop and revitalize, lead the trend of South-South cooperation, and inject strong impetus into the realization of UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Third, to be partners of security and stability. China will continue to support Islamic countries in drawing on Islamic wisdom to solve current hotspot issues such as those related to Palestine, Afghanistan and Ukraine, and firmly holding the key to maintaining stability and promoting peace in their own hands.
Fourth, to be partners of mutual learning among civilizations. We should uphold peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, the values shared by all, and oppose creating division and confrontation by drawing ideological lines. We should oppose the ideas of “superiority of certain civilization” and “clash of civilizations”, and the distortion and discredit of non-Western civilizations. We should deepen cooperation in preventive counter-terrorism and de-extremism, resist “double standards” in counter-terrorism, and oppose linking terrorism with any specific ethnic group or religion.”
Wang concluded his speech by saying that “China is ready to work with Islamic countries to promote a multi-polar world, democracy in international relations and diversity of human civilizations, and make unremitting efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind.”
These types of engagements do much to illustrate how China, and to some extent Russia, have been forging new alliances with large parts of the world becoming alienated from the West. The United States for example last attended in 2021, sending a ‘Special Envoy’ for Afghanistan. No US official attended this year’s event, in light of what happened in Afghanistan since – hardly good diplomacy when seeking to influence what will undoubtedly be a new geopolitical order in the aftermath of the Ukrainian conflict.
Following his speech, Wang held a side meeting with Hissein Brahmin Taha, the Secretary-General of the OIC. They reviewed the full range of relations between the OIC and China and its future prospects, and discussed ways to promote bilateral dialogue and cooperation in political, economic, cultural, education, health and intercivilizational dialogue issues. Talks also focused on areas of cooperation between China and the Member States, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wang described the role of the OIC as a positive bridge between China and the Muslim world. For his part, the Secretary General commended the interest China shows to Muslim world issues and to the part the OIC takes in promoting them. The two parties exchanged views on a set of regional and international issues of mutual concern, with Wang set to hold further bilateral meetings with OIC attendees as the meeting progresses.
Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists British and Foreign Investment into Asia and has 28 offices throughout China, India, the ASEAN nations and Russia. For strategic and business intelligence concerning China’s Belt & Road Initiative please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.dezshira.com