The Chinese Shift From Iran to the Gulf

Monday, 16 July, 2018 - 14:00 Issue Number [14475]

Some enthusiastic tweets have lost their way after relying on fake information. Fake news, as usual, is 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 the 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; it hasn't been known for 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 artery 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 take a certain stance, 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.

News that China will invest $0.5 trillion in two Kuwaiti islands is 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 get involved militarily 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 diversifies our options.

The strategic rapprochement is not a coincidence but the results on which politicians have worked with China. The Saudi King's visit to China last year 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 politically abandoned.

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 now make sense, mocking the Iranian command’s defiance and saying it would make concessions. We can thus view China as an important partner after replacing Iran’s oil with the Gulf's. Growing business dealings with China is consistent with the country’s significant and international Belt and Road Initiative.