Profit or Friendship? – Uighur

After it became known that Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon pay a working visit to Saudi Arabia, this innovation quickly attracted the attention of various media. In particular, Xi Jinping, who has been unable to travel abroad for more than two years due to the corona virus, went to Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip after the epidemic, and the fact that it happened a month after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia was one of the important topics of discussion. Especially when the Genocide in the Uyghur region is known to the world, the Chinese government’s repression in Hong Kong and the military provocation around the Taiwan Strait are in the international attention, the appearance of such a visit has caused a number of discussions about what it means.

On the eve of his visit to Saudi Arabia, US President Joe Biden published in the Washington Post on July 9, “Why am I going to Saudi Arabia?” The headline op-ed emphasized that improving relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia is essentially an important step in America’s response to China. When it comes to the Chinese government’s special interest in Saudi Arabia, which is playing the role of “chieftain” in the Middle East world, as the US-China relationship is getting rougher, Michael Doran, a researcher at the “Hudson Institute” from the most famous think tank in Washington, says:

“The date of this visit is not yet known. We don’t know if it will happen this week or later. But it could definitely happen by the end of the year. Saudi Arabia and China have very good relations. And it’s going incredibly well, you might say. Oil, energy, mining, and rocketry have all been common themes between them. In this sense, by preventing them from getting so close to China, it will add some power to the US to contain China. However, China is now doing well with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. But China is still closer to Saudi Arabia than Iran. Because Saudi Arabia is always more important to China, strategically or otherwise.

A review by Phelim Kine published in the August 16 issue of “Siyat” newspaper shows that China will buy 25 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil exports to the outside world. By March 2021, China has officially become Saudi Arabia’s largest export destination. In 2020 alone, the trade volume between China and Saudi Arabia exceeded 65 billion US dollars. In the same year, trade between the United States and Saudi Arabia (purchased oil and exported American cars) was less than 20 billion dollars. Since then, the Saudi government has been discussing the use of “Chinese Yuan” instead of the US dollar in oil trade with China. If this plan is successful, the Chinese currency will be used on an equal footing with the US dollar in the trade sector in the Middle East. In that case, Russia, which is facing economic sanctions from the Western world and is in close friendship with Saudi Arabia, will find it easier to overcome this crisis through the mediation of China. In this case, the strengthening of “friendship” between China and Saudi Arabia will essentially bring Russia into this circle. Speaking of which, Michael Doran says:

“Now the Biden administration is pushing Saudi Arabia to drill for more oil. Because the price of oil in the US market has soared. The crisis in Ukraine was an important factor in this. So if the amount of oil coming from Saudi Arabia increases, oil prices may fall. But it’s not over yet. China and Russia are potentially closing more deals in the Ukraine crisis. On the other hand, the Chinese government is indirectly supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On the other hand, there is a shared hostility toward the United States among Middle Eastern academics. In their view, opposing America is practically a good thing to do for everyone in the Middle East. More importantly, China managed to stick its hand in the Middle East until the United States withdrew its hands from the Middle East to deal with Russia. In this situation, it is easy for China to gain superiority in all aspects.

Thus, due to China’s huge demand for energy, their relationship with Saudi Arabia is going beyond any era in history. The government of Saudi Arabia, while unable to bridge the growing gap between itself and the Western world, is naturally focusing on strengthening its ties with China, which is eager to establish “friendly relations” with them. The details of this matter are featured in Phil Cain’s review, and some people think that “Xi Jinping will probably be welcomed more lavishly than Joe Biden when he goes to Saudi Arabia.” On the other hand, inviting Xi Jinping to Riyadh is a message sent by Mohammed bin Salman to the US government, and also serves as a reminder that a new competitor for the US has emerged in the Middle East. Philip Cain quoted White House National Security Adviser Michael Singh as saying, “China is now spreading the word that they are a better and more reliable partner in the Middle East than the United States.” This is also reflected in the words of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a press conference a week ago, saying, “Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner for us.” Speaking of which, Michael Doran says:

“The strategic relationship between China and Saudi Arabia is somewhat similar to the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabia is now looking out for their own interests just as the US is now looking out for their own interests. In particular, the threat of Iran will never leave their minds. So the strategic themes in this regard are now being satisfied not by the US, but by China. “This naturally makes the Saudi government more and more pro-China.”

The review article of “Siyasat” newspaper shows that the military arms trade is also an important part of Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia. Again, the Chinese government has been an important source of weapons for Saudi Arabia for years. At the beginning of August, Baydin’s government announced the sale of three billion dollars worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, including Patriot missiles. It is in this context that Xi Jinping’s visit to Riyadh and the discussion on the arms trade essentially show that the growing tension between the US and China and their confrontation in the Middle East are creating conditions for the Saudi government to “equally exploit both”. But given China’s close relationship with Iran and Iran’s biggest threat to Saudi Arabia, it is unlikely that China and Saudi Arabia will be too friendly.

At present, Xi Jinping’s visit to Riyadh is not just a state visit, but a new “Great Game” in the Middle East. There are many discussions about the details of this visit.

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