China hosts string of Gulf officials in sign of growing influence

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The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain and the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council are visiting China this week for talks on increasing trade and security cooperation.

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Why this matters: The flurry of visits by Gulf officials is part of China’s push for deeper engagement in the Middle East. For Beijing, the Gulf in particular is the key to its energy supply and increasingly its geopolitical influence.

Washington with focus With tensions over the Indo-Pacific, and in US-Saudi relations, there is a perception among Gulf leaders that the US is slowly but surely exiting the region. Some US officials are concerned about the extent to which China is moving.

  • US $23 billion deal to sell F-35 fighter jets to UAE partially stopped The US worries that China may gain access to sensitive US military technology.
  • Last December, CNN Reported US intelligence agencies assessed that Saudi Arabia was actively manufacturing ballistic missiles with the help of China.
  • And last November, the Wall Street Journal Reported That the Biden administration was concerned that China was secretly building a military facility at a port in the United Arab Emirates.
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Running news: Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan on Monday met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in the city of Wuxi in eastern China.

  • According to the official readout, they discussed bilateral ties and regional issues such as Iran, Yemen and Afghanistan.
  • Both sides described the ties as strategic and expressed their desire to promote it. He also announced that a Joint High Level Committee would be convened to enhance cooperation.

What are they saying: wang said According to the Chinese readout, both countries oppose “unilateralism and bullying”, while Prince Faisal said his country opposes “interference in China’s domestic affairs” and China’s position on human rights in Taiwan, Xinjiang and Uighurs. supports.

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Second aspect: A senior US State Department official tried to downplay the importance of Gulf officials’ visits, emphasizing that each country has a sovereign right to make decisions based on its own interests and that the US is critical of its involvement in the Gulf. Committed.

  • “We recognize that our allies and partners in the region have complex relationships with China, which will not always align with ours,” the official told Nerdshala.
  • “Our focus has been on closing gaps in areas such as technology and infrastructure, which we have seen exploited to put pressure on China. We will rely on innovation and competition in these areas.”

What will happen next: Iran’s Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdullahian is expected to visit China in the coming days. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that both sides will discuss it They signed a 25-year cooperation agreement Last year.

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