Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, today paid a visit to the Great Wall of China, one of the wonders of the world. The Crown Prince and his accompanying delegation are currently on a four-day state visit to the People's Republic of China, part of a world tour of seven countries.
Earlier, Crown Prince Abdullah performed juma'a (Friday) prayers at the Newjeih Mosque in Beijing, where the imam, preaching in Arabic, referred to the problems facing Muslims in today's world, and urged them to remain vigilant. The imam later remarked that over 3,000 worshippers come to the mosque every Friday, and that Arab and Muslim scholars periodically come there to teach Chinese Muslims the principles of Islam. After prayer, the Crown Prince addressed the Muslims of China, saying that Islam has always had respect, and exhorting them to adhere to its teachings. In the guest book, the Crown Prince wrote: "Islam is the religion of justice, rightness, love and peace, and I pray Almighty God that all Muslims may be able to strive to better themselves both in this world and the hereafter."
Yesterday, while visiting the Chinese Islamic Society in Beijing, Crown Prince Abdullah presented a copy of the Holy Qur'an published by the King Fahd Printing Complex in Madinah, some recordings issued by the same facility, and a piece of the kiswah [the covering of the ka'abah in the Holy Mosque in Makkah]. In his address, he conveyed to all Chinese Muslims greetings and good wishes from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, and went on to underline the differences between true Muslims and terrorists working in the name of Islam to create contention among Muslims and spread confusion among non-Muslims. Referring to the historical fact that Islam reached China through peaceful means, he expressed the hope that Chinese Muslims would always preserve their Islamic message of peace.
The number of Muslims in China is estimated at some twenty million. There are over 34,000 mosques, nearly 45,000 imams, and 10 Islamic colleges with more than 20,000 teachers. Muslims in China study the Qur'an in translation. In fact, Islam entered China over 1300 years ago, and the first Islamic envoy, who visited the Chinese Emperor in Shanghai, was delegated during the era of the third caliph, Othman bin Affan. Muslims in China are benefiting from the country's recent openness, and are now able to practise their rituals with ease; each year, some 6,000 Chinese pilgrims travel to Makkah and Madinah to perform Hajj or Umrah.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Finance Minister Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, and Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, held talks yesterday with their Chinese counterparts. Prince Saud described his talks with the Chinese foreign minister as deep and frank, reflecting the mutual confidence of the two countries, and aimed at further boosting their strategic as well as political and economical relations. The discussion included the Middle East situation, notably the issue of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as being the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Prince Saud said the views of the two sides on this matter, as on others, were identical. He expressed appreciation of China's great influence in the international arena, and confirmed that China would play a more active role in the Middle East peace process. He went on to announce that on the economic side, the two parties have reached agreements that he hoped would be concluded before the end of the current visit, when a joint communiqué would be issued.