The Chinese shift from Iran to the Gulf

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
5 min read

Some enthusiastic tweets have lost their way after relying on fake information. This fake news is, as usual, made up and circulated by certain groups to direct or deviate social media discussions. One tweet said: “The Chinese are coming with their money and forces, and to hell with Trump and Putin.” It’s true, the Chinese are coming to region and they will add an economic and political value to it; however, Trump and Putin are staying within the necessities of regional balance.

China is not like the US and Russia as it’s not well-known for having an offensive foreign policy, and it does not want to be part of wars. China also avoids the policy of axes in our region. Despite this, it’s still a major country whose interests in the region are increasing, primarily in terms of oil. The region is its vital vein and it’s worried about being under the control of regional or international powers or the chaos of hostile non state-actors.

Although China does not have a certain position, it does not mean it doesn’t have a role. It has a major presence as an economic power and it seeks to protect its interests without weapons, like in Pakistan and Afghanistan. China’s policy is also pragmatic; during the US dispute with Iran, Beijing did not support Washington, did not give up on the nuclear deal and refused to boycott Iran but at the same time it decided to give up on Iran as a major source for its oil purchases and to head towards Saudi Arabia as an alternative. This will be a painful blow to Tehran.

Tehran is now economically suffocated, militarily defeated in the region and a political outcast. Iran cannot expect everyone to bow down to it, while it’s practicing a policy of bullying and destruction.

News that China will invest $0.5 trillion in two Kuwaiti islands are just lies spread on social media networks. This amount is not only irrational, for those who understand the language of numbers, but China has actually only allocated $20 billion to invest in more than five countries in the region.

The second lie is that China intends to protect its interests but the truth is that it rejects to militarily get involved and only sends fishing and cargo ships. The $0.5 trillion is an amount allocated by Beijing inside the country. What’s more important for us is that China is heading towards us in steady steps to enhance cooperation thus improving opportunities and increasing our options.

The strategic rapprochement is not a coincidence but the results of which politicians have worked on with China. Saudi King Salman’s visit to China last years was a significant step in which “comprehensive cooperation” agreements were signed. And now, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s will make his first visit to the UAE after his re-election, and the UAE has warmly welcomed the upcoming visit. Before that, Beijing warmly welcomed Kuwait’s Emir when he visited it last week.

Economy is the Gulf’s power and the road to China’s heart and mind. It’s a partnership without other commitments. We are not concerned much with how the Iranians look at this rapprochement. China is now heading towards Saudi Arabia and the Gulf and giving up on Iran’s oil which was its first source. This angers Tehran and forces it to read developments with a different logic as it’s now economically suffocated, militarily defeated in the region and a political outcast. Iran cannot expect everyone to bow down to it, while it’s practicing the policy of bullying and destruction. This supports Trump’s statements, which are now meaningful, when he mocked the Iranian command’s defiance and said it will make concessions. We can thus view China as an important partner after giving up on Iran’s oil and heading towards the Gulf’s oil. Increasing business dealings with China harmonizes with the country’s significant and international Belt and Road Initiative.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
Top Content Trending