Editor's note: Zhou Jian is the Chinese ambassador to Qatar.
It's fair to say that the Chinese elements have made important contributions to the Qatar World Cup, deepening the friendship between peoples of China and Qatar and providing a strong impetus for the enhancement of China-Qatar relations. From a broader perspective, these Chinese elements and contributions are also a microcosm of the momentous development of China-Qatar relations.
If we compare the China-Qatar relations in the past decade to a team competing hard in the international arena, I think this team's standing must be among the best. The high-level exchanges between the two countries are like the coaches steering the team in the right direction, as they play the role of "compass" and "anchor" in our bilateral relations. Over the past decade, President Xi Jinping and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani have met four times and made top-level design for China-Qatar relations in the new era. The pragmatic cooperation between the two countries is like a striker who keeps scoring fantastic goals and creating great achievements. In the past 10 years, the bilateral trade between China and Qatar has more than doubled to over $18 billion. China has become Qatar's largest trading partner, the largest source of imports and the largest export destination. There are many positive reports on the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of communications, oil and gas, and engineering contracting, as both sides make new breakthroughs in joint development.
Of course, for a team to win, apart from having sharp offensives, a solid back line is also essential. The people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and Qatar are like a rock-solid defender, providing the team with the most solid foundation and guarantee. Over the past decade, we held a brilliant China-Qatar Cultural Year; the two countries reached an agreement on mutual exemption of visas; the Friendship Committee and the Friendship Association between China and Qatar have enhanced their close ties, laying a solid social and public foundation for the relationship between the two countries.
Next year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Qatar. China-Qatar relations will stand at a new historical starting point and usher in a broader playing field. I am convinced that China and Qatar will uphold the spirit of solidarity, friendship, tenacity, unremitting endeavor as seen in football; work together to deepen the cooperation across all parts of development strategies; expand practical cooperation in various fields; accelerate the construction of new platforms for China-Qatar cultural cooperation such as cultural centers and Confucius Institutes; and promote the relationship between the two countries to a new level.
Just like what is sung in the three theme songs of the Qatar World Cup — "Better Together," "Arhbo" and "Light the Sky," despite the difficulties in the world today, as long as the world is united in harmony and everyone works together, we can have a better future, and the sun will shine brighter tomorrow.
Finally, I wish the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 a great success. I hope it can leave unforgettable memories for fans all over the world and leave an indelible mark in the history of the World Cup.