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China’s View of the Development of an Arab World ‘Looking East’

Printable version / Version imprimable

EIRNS—Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at her Dec. 7 briefing that “President Xi Jinping will attend the inaugural China-Arab States Summit. This will be the largest and highest-level diplomatic event between China and the Arab world since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It will be an epoch-making milestone in the history of China-Arab relations.” So reports the coverage of China’s English-language Global Times.

Given the games played with global energy markets, food security and the weaponization of trade with arbitrary sanctions, “the international community faces great uncertainty in terms of economic recovery and national development. The move, which is seen by some observers as Arab countries collectively ‘looking East’ marks a significant diplomatic and strategic adjustment for countries in the Middle East. The landmark summits represent a diplomatic pioneering step by China in the Middle East that will help stabilize the region, promote disputes resolving through dialogues, cushion negative effects that the U.S. and Western arbitrary sanctions on Russia have brought to the Arab countries, experts stated.”

The article proceeds to hear from those experts. Yahya Mahmoud bin Junaid, chairman of the Riyadh-based Center for Research and Knowledge Communication, is quoted saying that Xi’s presence at the summits is “a stepping stone to closer collaboration in order to boost international peace, establish equal relations between countries, based on mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of any country, and enhance cultural existence.” Nadia Helmy, an expert on Chinese political affairs at Egypt’s Beni Suef University, explains as GT puts it, that “there are considerable prospects for joint Arab-Chinese cooperation that can be discussed during the upcoming summits,” and she believes “the summits are primarily aimed at discussing ways to promote common development and integrate strategies within the framework of the Global Development Initiative and the Belt and Road Initiative.”

GT writes of United Arab Emirates strategist Ebrahim Hashem told the daily, “China emphasizes the principles of mutual respect, mutual benefits and win-win cooperation in developing ties with Saudi and development-through-peace approach in the region while the U.S. prioritizes human rights and democracy subjects and issues diktats to Saudi and other Arabic countries, which many in the region increasingly do not tolerate.”

Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, explained the challenge to the U.S.: “The U.S. is facing a paradox—it wants the Middle East countries to cooperate with it on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, but it has neither ability nor willingness to bring benefits to regional countries. Arab countries are fully aware of this. Arab countries are clear about where their own interests lie. Stable and long-term markets, emerging communication fields, and infrastructure construction, such as seaports, are areas that attract them to cooperate with China.”

Among other things, when Ukraine’s government, in late 2013, tried to sync up with China’s Belt and Road, including a major infrastructure development of a Ukrainian seaport, Kiev’s government was toppled in February 2014 in a coup, from which they’ve never recovered. The table is set, and it doesn’t appear that neither China nor Russia is in a mood to play games.