Surprise ! Saudi Arabia and China are nearing the point where Chinese leaders talk about the most important diplomatic event between China and the Arab world since the Communist takeover of China in 1949. However, this rise in Chinese influence in the region was to be expected.
Beijing’s skillful diplomacy has been operating in the Arab world for decades. The patience of Chinese leaders is beginning to bear fruit, especially since the relative power of the United States is declining and China has long become the main trading partner of the countries of the Arab world. The Americans remain the most important military players in the region. But for how long? Looks like we’ll have to get used to the fluid alliance games. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to have found a new bride for his harem. Will this new wife spark a revolution in the palace?
1. What is China’s traditional policy in the region?
China is pursuing a conciliatory and cautious policy in the region. He has managed the power round of approaching both the Israelis and the Palestinians or the Iranians and the Saudis. But its official policy hides preferences. Iran has always been so committed to the Iranians that it has provided them with assistance in their nuclear program since 1985. Since then, it has officially positioned itself against the Iranian nuclear program, but continues to invest heavily in Iran.
2. What is Saudi Arabia’s interest in getting closer to China?
The rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and China should come as no surprise given that the United States has effectively stopped buying Saudi oil and China has become Riyadh’s main customer. Saudi Arabia supplies China with about 17% of its imported oil. But above all, Saudi leaders see the end of the oil age coming. Soon, Europe will no longer need so much oil. Therefore, the re-transformation of the Saudi economy is urgent. China, with its new silk roads, advanced technologies and cheap workers, promises to help Saudi Arabia achieve its new ambitions.
3. What is China’s interest in getting closer to Saudi Arabia?
The Saudis have a lot of money to spend and their workforce is not enough to realize their new economic projects. Therefore, the Chinese economy will benefit from this convergence. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is one of the main centers of influence in the Arab world. Chinese leaders could not help but be pleased with a stronger presence there, especially since such a presence contributes to the weakening of the US presence.
4. Does China have a new strategy in this part of the world?
China has been pursuing the same strategy for decades. For her, the world is a huge go-to game where she places her pieces wisely in order to extend her control. China’s successes are particularly evident in the economic field. However, military progress shows that in a few years it can replace the Americans to protect certain countries and ensure the stability of the region.
5. How does this rapprochement weaken the United States?
American leaders believe that the Chinese are unable to ensure regional stability. They have just warned the countries of the region against Chinese temptation. In fact, no one is irreplaceable.