When China Meets The Arab World: A New Beginning Is Possible 

Among others, President Xi also pledged that there is no such thing as an "indefinite war," a feature that has become more and more endemic in Gaza.

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Published in BusinessToday, AstroAwani & TheSun, image by AstroAwani.

Meetings between the Arab world and China, for what it is worth, was the beginning of what one might call the first genuine proto globalization. 

At the very least, it was a cross cultural encounter that resulted in a maze of what many historians called the Silk Roads, indeed, in the plural. 

The latter was discovered by a German archaeologist who found not one but many bewildering trade routes all connecting the Arab world, Persia, not excluding the Ottoman Empire, criss crossing the Eurasian mountains and steppes, right across the Gobi deserts into Xinjiang. That is the roads broke apart into various arteries, invariably, of trade, before making their ways into Xi An and Guang Zhou in China.

The sum total of these re-discoveries, ancient as they may be, have been pilloried by the West, as China’s attempt to assert its influence in the contemporary international relations. Through the Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI). More interestingly, as early as 2012, when China was launching them, they were regarded by the hawkish Brahma Chellaney of India as the “debt trap.” 

Yet over the last 7 years or so, the impeccable scholarship of Professor Deborah Brautigan at the Johns Hopkins University and Processor Meg Ritye at the Harvard Business School have rejected this theory with real empirical findings. 

Onerous repayments are often imposed by the West and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) even World Bank, in turn the Western financial institutions, rather than China itself. 

Professor Deborah Brautigan isn’t any academic. She has spent more than 50 years of her life examining Africa’s foreign debt. 

Time and again, she has found a gaping gap between what the West says and what it actually does. 

In the meeting between President Xi Jin Ping and various Arab leaders, China was not being condescending at all. Such as issuing the dictum all ye must learn from us. 

At any rate China agreed to work with the Arab world on their cyber fiber cable to ensure the safe transmission of the cyber optic cables, further investment of the sector of Green Energy and elements.

Among others, President Xi also pledged that there is no such thing as an “indefinite war,” a feature that has become more and more endemic in Gaza. 

With Israel now promising to pummel the hapless 2.2 million citizens of Gaza with unrelenting carpet bombing and raids. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, the United States of America (US) countered that the Israeli war against Hamas has crossed no “red lines.” 

How can there be no red lines, when the people receiving the brunt of the murderous treatment are practically living in make-shift land and tents. They are being bombed without mercy at all. These war crimes have got to stop with the Palestinians, those in Gaza and the West Bank, being given the necessary respite.

What is heartening to know is what President Xi Jin Ping had said: “China will work with the Arab side as good partners to make our relations a model for maintaining world peace and stability,” in a speech to the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing on May 29th 2024. 

Among others, he listed artificial intelligence, green tech and finance as sectors open for greater collaboration. This is consistent with China’s effort to climb up the supply chain. 

It is also an attempt to prevent a repeat of post Pandemic stress where up to 30 percent of the BRI became non performing projects, of which 60 percent of them experienced an acute stress.

On Gaza, at any rate, China pledged a total of USD 69 million in its reconstruction. This amount is tiny compared to the USD 100 Billion that is needed to rebuild Gaza that is needed to rebuild a pulverized city from the ground up. 

But at least China is doing something that is in compliance with humanitarian values. For UNRWA, China is contributing USD 3 Million. A practice similar to the Scandinavian countries.

Meanwhile, the likes of Spain, Ireland and Norway have recognized Palestine as a state, which may be an example that the likes of Belgium and Portugal may emulate. 

China and other member states  especially Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea may do the same. Come what may, in China and Arab cooperation.

UBS analysts estimate that growing Chinese ties to the Middle East could add more than $400 billion to global energy-related trade by 2030.

Indeed, this event was attended by the Heads of state from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Tunisia.  Talks have also focused on fast-growing trade and investment, and regional security concerns amid the Israel-Hamas war. Undoubtedly, China and the Arab world, indeed, North Africa and the Islamic world, will have more convergence and confluence, as and when they begin to explore their  mutual material  interest.

Dr Rais Hussin is the Founder of EMIR Research, a think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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