In a comprehensive article today, the FT notes that the UAE’s deepening ties with China are affecting the US/UAE alliance as Biden’s increasingly hawkish stance towards China worries the Gulf states. China broadened its economic and political footprint across the Middle East 20 years ago and today China is the biggest buyer of crude oil from the Gulf States.

Prof Abdulla, an Emirati Professor of Politics, notes “The trend is more of China, less of America on all fronts, not just economically but politically, militarily, and strategically in the years to come. There is nothing America can do about it.”. This is confirmed by General McKenzie, the Commander of the US Central Command who said in a webinar “We need to recognise that competition against Russia + China simply does not only occur in the Western Pacific or in the Baltics. It occurs in other places where they are expanding and coming in”.

An unnamed Saudi official is quoted “China is light years ahead on lots of things. We are also studying their industrial cities, not just big industry but downstream industries, technology and looking at how they build them so successfully.” And Prince Mohammed, whose father is the custodian of Islam’s two holiest mosques, has made no comment on the Uyghur issue except to say that Beijing “had the right to take anti-terrorism and de-extremism measures for safeguarding national security”.

Jonathan Fulton of Zayed University in Abu Dhabi observes that the Gulf powers look at China “and see a rising power that creates a lot of opportunities and they don’t demand a whole lot whereas Western countries tend to tie in human rights and political ideology…China’s got this very firm, non-interference principle hard-baked into its foreign policy”

It is good to look beyond Washington and see how other countries view China.

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Graham Perry

Graham Perry

My understanding of China is dethatched, objective and informed unlike most other commentators who political prejudices invade their writings.