China never plays politics in Middle East

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/21 21:18:42

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrived in China Thursday for a two-day visit after his trip to Pakistan and India, where he signed investment agreements. People believe his trip to China will enhance the connection between Saudi Vision 2030 and the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and strengthen the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership.

Most Western opinion believes the trip reflects Saudi Arabia's "Look East" policy, as the country was alienated from the West through the Jamal Khashoggi case. Such a shallow opinion underestimates the profound changes taking place in the Middle East and the world.

Because of oil, the Middle East became the world's geopolitical center. Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region traded oil for security with Western countries. Afterwards, turbulence triggered terrorism in the region. The US and Europe bought less oil from the Middle East because of their own progress in energy technology. Conflicts in the Muslim world were long-term and complicated.

The Khashoggi case caused a serious row, as the US and other Western countries accused their biggest ally in the Gulf of violating human rights. In the past, these countries couldn't live without Saudi Arabia's oil. But now they believe they have more initiative in relations with Saudi Arabia. Buying its oil or not, selling weapons to it or not, these can be Western countries' tools to adjust relations with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is still dependent on the US for security. The relationship with the West is still important to the country. But it needs to diversify its strategic cooperation. With or without the Khashoggi case, the Arab country needs to look east.

China is the largest buyer of Saudi crude oil and Saudi Arabia is China's largest crude supplier. Asian countries account for about 70 percent of Saudi Arabia's oil exports. The "Look East" policy has significant meaning for the Arab country. Moreover, the entire Middle East will attach more importance to the Asian market. If economic security is the most important part of national security, then the security meanings of the "Look East" policy will multiply.

The US and some Western countries are dissatisfied with Saudi Arabia's "Look East" policy. For those who support Western centrism, countries in the Middle East better remain the West's loyal dependencies. They hope these countries will adjust their domestic affairs according to the West's interests, without having their own core interests. 

Although the "Look East" policy hasn't affected Saudi Arabia's relations with the West, some Western people are still jealous of it. They wish Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East could be more loyal to the West. Some Western elites are completely engrossed in ideology.

A main target of Saudi Vision 2030 is to make the country less reliant on oil exports. The target can be coordinated with China's BRI. Countries in the Middle East welcome the BRI as it benefits the region's long-term economic and social development. Iran also has the need to develop other economic sectors with the help of the BRI.

China won't be a geopolitical player in the Middle East. It has no enemies and can cooperate with all countries in the region. China's increasing influence in the Middle East comes from pure friendly cooperation. Such a partnership will be welcomed by more countries in the Middle East.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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