Monday, May 11, 2009

The Middle Kingdom meets the Middle East

[South-South Cooperation] -- China, Middle East -- Reuters Analysis -- by Alan Wheatley, China Economics Editor

Alan Wheatley is an intelligent journalist with years of experience reporting news in both Taiwan and mainland China whom I respect a great deal. Alan's article does a superb job of combining hard data with different points of views from experts on all sides to present a unbiased report.

This is the general principle Reuters journalists follow. By providing the reader with the
necessary perspectives and hard data to back them up, the reader is expected to make their own decision on the significance of the article.

As there always are,
I am sure some bad apples exist. After a internship with Reuters Beijing Bureau back in 2006, I can personally testify that the Beijing staff makes a concerted effort to uphold the journalist's creed and report both sides of the story.

En route to the Silk Road

With no fanfare, a $5 billion (3.3 billion pounds) refinery in which Saudi Aramco has a 25 percent stake quietly began processing oil a couple of weeks ago in eastern China.

The start-up of the Fujian plant, half-owned by top state-owned refiner Sinopec (0386.HK), testifies to the thickening trade and investment ties between China and the Arab world.

China's exports to the 22 members of the Arab League jumped to $62.3 billion last year from just $7.2 billion in 2001, the year China joined the World Trade Organisation. The share in total Chinese exports rose to 4.4 percent from 2.7 percent.

Imports from the Arab world over the same period grew to $70.3 billion from $7.5 billion, doubling the share in total imports to 6.2 percent, according to official Chinese data.


Nowhere is this more in evidence than in Yiwu, a town in eastern China whose vast wholesale markets draw traders from across the globe in search of cheap consumer goods.

"We don't see too many Europeans any more. These days, most of our customers are from the Middle East," Zhu Shanshan, a sales representative at Dove Candle, which sells scented candles and handicrafts, said on a recent visit to Yiwu.