HomeExpansionismThe Saudi-China Conundrum: Decoding Motives, Assessing Consequences

The Saudi-China Conundrum: Decoding Motives, Assessing Consequences

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The world stands witness to a disconcerting development in global affairs as Saudi Arabia deepens its ties with China, raising alarming questions about the motives behind this strategic shift. While the Kingdom’s historical reliance on China as a major consumer of its oil is well-documented, the recent expansion of their partnership into security and sensitive technology sectors has ignited apprehension in Western circles. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the energy minister of Saudi Arabia, dismisses these concerns, but the West remains skeptical, unable to ignore the potential risks of this burgeoning alliance.

During an Arab-China business conference, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman nonchalantly brushed aside criticisms of the Saudi-China relationship, choosing to ignore the warning signs that the West finds so troubling. His dismissive attitude only deepens the sense of unease, raising suspicions about the true nature of Saudi Arabia’s intentions. Is the Kingdom turning a blind eye to the potential dangers for the sake of short-term gains?

As the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia’s economic ties with China have always been centered around hydrocarbon trade. However, the growing entanglement in security and sensitive technology sectors suggests a deeper level of collaboration that warrants closer scrutiny. While Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman emphasizes the need for collaboration rather than competition, one cannot help but wonder if there are hidden agendas at play.

We have seen China’s attempts to replace the dollar (at the moment the standard) with the Yuan for oil transactions, together with Russia’s attempt blackmail European countries to use the Ruble. This would be a considerable blow to the U.S. dollar as a world currency.

China’s increasing influence in the Middle East has already been demonstrated by its role in brokering a surprise rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. This unexpected diplomatic breakthrough, facilitated by Beijing, raises concerns about China’s motivations in the region. Is it merely seeking to expand its own interests, exploiting regional rivalries for its own benefit? Does China have long term plans to dominate the region in other ways?

The 10th Arab-China Business Conference kicked off in Riyadh with a flurry of activity as 30 investment agreements worth $10 billion were signed on the first day. These deals span various sectors, including technology, renewables, agriculture, real estate, minerals, supply chains, tourism, and healthcare. The agreements involved joint ventures, manufacturing projects, app development, and more.

This event took advantage of seeming similarities between Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In a bid to further enhance trade ties, Saudi Arabia also announced the revival of the Silk Route, positioning itself as China’s gateway to the Arab world. Trade between the two countries reached $106 billion in 2022, reflecting a 30% increase compared to the previous year.

The United States, a long-standing ally of Saudi Arabia, has expressed unease over this growing alliance. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been firm in assuring Saudi Arabia that it is not being forced to choose sides between the United States and China. But the West remains skeptical, well aware of China’s assertive foreign policy and its pursuit of global dominance.

As the world watches the trajectory of Saudi Arabia’s relationship with China, skepticism and suspicion abound. The international community must remain vigilant, ensuring that any collaboration between these two nations does not come at the expense of stability and security in the region. The consequences of turning a blind eye to China’s motives could have far-reaching implications that extend well beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia.

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