The Beijing University Library Branch is the first branch of the Library to be established in Asia, and a major addition to the development of Saudi-Chinese cultural relations, which stretch over thousands of years through the famous Silk Road and the trade movement which has been established in modern times, especially during the last four decades, which have witnessed the establishment of integrated political relations between the two countries.
The Beijing University Library Branch is a symbol of Saudi-Chinese friendship, a bridge for the communication of culture and knowledge between the Arab-Muslim and Chinese civilizations, one source of knowledge about the Kingdom for researchers and scholars in China, and a support for Arabic language education programmes at the most prestigious universities in China.
The idea of establishing it began during King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz's visit to China in 2006 AD (1426 AH). Following this, the Cabinet decision was issued on 10 February 2009 AD (14 Safar 1430 AH), including the appointment of his Excellency the General Supervisor of the King Abdul-Aziz Public Library to discuss with the Chinese side a draft memorandum of understanding between the Library and Beijing University on the procedures for the establishment of the branch, which was officially signed in the presence of King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz and his Excellency the Chinese President Hu Jintao in the same year.
The memorandum included the approval of the establishment of a library branch in Beijing University, followed by the signing of a preliminary agreement between the library and Beijing University, which defined the objectives, mission and activities of the branch. In the context of the good leadership of the Library's efforts in the service of Arab and Islamic culture, an annual draft budget for the operation of the Branch was adopted, and the Library supervised all stages of the establishment and processing of the Branch in a privileged location near the main entrance of the university. It will become an important platform for serving Arab-Islamic culture in the ancient Chinese university, a bridge for communication between cultures, a river to promote cultural and scientific relations between the two countries, and a window for informing Chinese citizens of Saudi Arabia's history and civilization.
On 21 November 2015 (8 Safar 1437) a major ceremony was held to lay the foundation stone of the project in the presence of a select group of officials from the two countries. In a speech he delivered during the ceremony, the Vice-President of Beijing University, Li Yan Song, described it as not an ordinary stone, but a symbol of friendship between the friendly peoples and a route for further cultural exchange between Saudi Arabia and China. He stated that this major cultural project will be very effective in developing cultural relations between the two countries and taking them ever further.
The Library branch is located on an area of 13 thousand square metres and consists of 6 floors including study and reading rooms that can accommodate more than 100 researchers and guests, and accommodates more than 200 thousand books and knowledge materials over an area of 500 square metres, a lecture hall and a specialized exhibition centre. In addition, there is an Arabic-Chinese Studies Centre, a library of ancient manuscripts in Beijing University, and administrative offices that can accommodate more than 40 employees.
In accordance with the project implementation agreement, the Library provides information services to the scholars, researchers and students of the University, provides the Branch with books, references, printed and electronic information, and implements specialized scientific and cultural programmes that reflect the development of society and the wealth of Arab culture in the Kingdom, as well as the translation and publication of books, scientific references and creativity in Arabic and Chinese. The Chinese libraries also supported their needs for Arab knowledge sources and automated indexing through the United Arab Index and the Arab Digital Library, in coordination with the University's management through a special board of directors of the Library Branch.
The Library Branch was established to promote the exchange of culture, science and knowledge, to introduce the Chinese people to the history and civilization of the Arab Islamic nation, to strengthen cultural exchange and the communication of knowledge between Saudi Arabia and China, to serve scholars and scientists, and to support Arabic language education at Chinese universities. The functions of the King Abdul-Aziz Public Library in operating and managing the branch include: establishing a knowledge portal to make its collections available over the internet, providing it with books and paper and electronic containers of information that contribute to the introduction of Arab Islamic culture and the history of the Kingdom, establishing specialized scientific and cultural programmes in which Arab and Muslim scholars participate with Chinese scholars, thereby promoting communication between Islamic Arab culture and Chinese culture in various fields. All this is in addition to translating and publishing books and Arab Islamic culture into Chinese, providing Chinese libraries with the Arabic books they need and conducting automated indexing through the Unified Arab index and Arab Digital Library, as well as supervising the Chinese-Arabic Library Portal, which the King Abdul-Aziz Library has already started to establish in cooperation with the National Libraries of the Republic of China.