With Washington’s less influence in the Middle East, as confirmed by the recent Biden visit, China stands as the main replacement.
Earlier in July, almost halfway through his tenure in office, US President Joe Biden made his first trip to the Middle East. The area used to be at the heart of Washington’s foreign strategy. However, even with these close ties, China remained a main concern.
Before the controversial trip, Biden, asserted that Washington must put itself in the greatest possible place to outpace Beijing. The Middle East is increasingly being seen in the Washington as a potential hotspot for the ongoing US-China rivalry. This is as a result of China’s increasing regional influence.
China has increased its economic ties to the area and demonstrated its determination to remain. This includes both established fields of cooperation, like the energy industry, and the brand-new “health silk road.” China has taken advantage of the Pandemic to help developing nations with their healthcare needs.
This is preparing the scene for fiercer rivalry between Beijing and Washington, which regards the region as firmly falling inside the purview of international security. “As China’s footprint has grown, there is this romanticized Orientalism towards China and this [conception of] China as a potential alternative to the US, as a wealthy power to address the issues in the region in substantive ways,” A Saudi Arabia analyst observed.
As the US steadily changes its international policy concentration away from the area and lessens its energy dependence on oil, this might pave the way to the Middle East China. Saudi Arabia reportedly considered taking the Chinese yuan in place of US dollars for the delivery of oil to China in the past months. That is a significant departure from the current dollar-based structure of global oil trade.
China in the Middle East
China is the leading crude oil supplier is Saudi Arabia. China’s leading partner for buying crude oil last year was the kingdom, with 87 million tons.
Analysts claim that such a deal would benefit both sides of the agreement. Yuan commerce would effectively shield China from exchange rate swings and any potential sanctions. China is a significant commercial partner for Saudi Arabia, and a move like this would show that Riyadh is aware of China’s reservations.
However, a large group of observers think that the rivalry between these two dominant nations in the area won’t always be in the energy industry. In the past several decades, by the way, there has been an automatic relationship between the region and energy.
China is gaining support in the time of developing multipolarity. This is seen by the way it treats Muslim Uyghur people and dissidents in Hong Kong. “China is safeguarding domestic security by ensuring there is no support for activity in Xinjiang from other countries, including Saudi Arabia,” an analyst said.
There is no immediate plan to affect the fact that Washington is still far more involved than Beijing in the region’s security.
This is visible in Biden’s efforts to bring Israel and Saudi Arabia into an anti-Iran security coalition.
The Middle East is where China has an economic presence rather than a security one. Offering that level of participation is not invasive. Beijing has agreements with Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Iran as well as a 25-year program of collaboration with the latter. It is in a good place to stop interfering politically in a strife-torn area.
For China, economy is the way to expand influence in any zone. Recent Biden policy shift over Saudi Arabia clarified that economic strategies transcend political agenda.