Shao Zheng, Chargé d'Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Yemen, said that the Yemeni crisis was going through a sensitive and important stage that is fraught with many opportunities and challenges at the same time.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he called on the Yemeni parties to seize opportunities to achieve peace as soon as possible.
According to Zheng, challenges include lack of trust between the Yemeni parties and the worsening humanitarian and economic conditions in Yemen.
The Chinese official stressed that his country has a strong desire to contribute to achieving peace in Yemen through various channels, pointing to the importance of the positive atmosphere and efforts of reconciliation witnessed in the Arab region during the last period.
Yemen enjoys opportunities and faces challenges at the same time, he said. According to him, there are three opportunities ahead. The first is that after eight years of war, the aspirations of the Yemeni people for peace have become greater.
Secondly, relations between the countries of the region have become better, as China has succeeded in mediating between Saudi Arabia and Iran to conduct discussions in Beijing and reach an agreement to normalize relations.
The third opportunity, according to the Chinese official, is the negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis, which have achieved some results in some areas.
He hoped the negotiations will bring more benefits and progress in order to lay a solid foundation for peace in the future.
However, Zheng pointed to a number of challenges facing peace in Yemen.
He said mutual trust between the different parties is still lacking and needs more time to be restored. Secondly, the process of improving relations between the countries of the region is still fragile; and third, the humanitarian and economic conditions in Yemen are worsening, and cannot be solved overnight.
Zheng emphasized that China was working to achieve peace in the world through its global security initiative, indicating that its success in mediating between Saudi Arabia and Iran to normalize relations was the best evidence of the implementation of this initiative.
The Chargé d’Affaires stressed that Beijing appreciated the Saudi-Omani efforts to achieve peace in the war-torn country.
Asked whether the Chinese government had any relations with the Houthis, he replied that China supports the Yemeni legitimate government, and calls on the various Yemeni parties to sit at the negotiating table as soon as possible to launch the peace talks.
Zheng pointed to the long history of economic an investment cooperation between his country and Yemen, saying that one of the most important Chinese projects was the Hodeidah-Sanaa road, which was built with the help of China.
He added that the number of giant Chinese projects in Yemen before the 2015 war reached about 100, pointing out that these companies were forced to withdraw in the wake of the war.
In this context, the official revealed that Chinese companies have a desire to participate in the reconstruction of the country.
The volume of trade exchange between the two countries is currently at $3 billion, while the volume of trade exchange between China and the Arab countries exceeds than $400 billion, he said.
Today, there are about 30,000 Yemenis living in China, most of whom are merchants, who form a bridge linking China to Yemen, he added.