China-Arab Summit 2023: There are a lot of criticisms labelled at China, but thinking in the short term is not one of them. Though their planning and execution ultimately fail, it is commendable that they develop long-term strategies. Now, they are running after the Arab world of the post-oil era. The China-Arab Summit is supposed to be a big step in that direction.
According to a Reuters report, Xi Jinping will arrive in Saudi Arabia on December 7. It is expected that Saudi Arabia will host the first edition of the China-Arab Summit during Xi’s trip. CNN has reported that a China-GCC conference is also on the charter. Jinping is expected to sign loads of agreements on energy, security, and investments with the Gulf nations.
These agreements are in line with China’s long-term plan in the Arab world. A few days ago, it released a 19,000-word document named “China-Arab Cooperation in the New Era.” The report lays out the principles on which the future of China-Arab relations will be built.
According to Global Times, CCP mouthpiece, paragraph of the report reads, “Both China and Arab countries advocate respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. They both oppose external interference and all forms of hegemonism and power politics.”
China is trying to occupy American space
I know you are laughing about China’s advocacy for sovereignty. The important thing is decoding the real reasons behind this hyperbole. A big reason why China is pushing for greater involvement in the Arab world is that the United States is dragging its feet out of the desert region.
The last few months have not been good for the bond between the US and Arab countries. America has always sided with the Arab world to remain in the good books of oil-producing nations. It provided them military security, and in return, the Arab world opened its oil gallons for Uncle Sam.
Things started to shift when shale oil was discovered in the US. Then, in the last few years, Americans have been focusing on eliminating the need for fossil fuels altogether. They have started to renege on their promises. Why would the Arab world not look for options?
The bonhomie between Saudi Arabia and Russia is the new talk of the town. It is trying to gain a prominent place in BRICS as well. Speculations are rife that with the entry of Saudi Arabia, BRICS will announce its new and much-awaited currency. It makes sense for China to align with those countries with which Russia is aligned with.
Aligning with the Arab world is important to counter India
In the same breath, it also makes sense for China to align with those countries with which India is aligned with. Although the ultimate reasons are much different. In the case of Russia, China does not see it as a competitor, while in the case of India, China does see it as such.
China does not want to see India’s emergence as the leader of the Global South. This is the reason it sided with every western power possible during the first 20 years of this millennium. Not so long ago, the governments of the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, and many others were filled either with Chinese infiltrators or with China sympathisers. Trump woke them up, and after COVID, China is desperately hunting for a global economic partner.
And so is India. India is replacing China as a formidable economic partner for western countries. India’s equation with the Arab World is even better. The Modi Cabinet has been treating the Arab world with kid gloves as compared to western countries.
Gulf World is the last option for China
While Jaishankar is not leaving any opportunity to remind the West of their hypocrisy, but when it comes to the Gulf world, India does listen to its concerns and try to find an amicable solution. What’s more, even Gulf nations also return the favour, as was evident in Qatar’s clarification of Zakir Naik.
India already has a group in the region called I2U2. It consists of India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the lone outlier, the United States. China is observing all this. It sees its western and African markets sliding away from it into the hands of India. It does not want the futuristic Gulf world to side with India.
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