Dr. Mohammed Makram Balawi
The global arena in general, and the Middle East region in particular, witnessed important fundamental developments during the recent period, the most prominent of which was the announcement by Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic relations between them and to reopen embassies within two months, following Chinese-sponsored talks in Beijing, which represents a major shift in Chinese foreign policy that aspires – regarding It seems – to make Beijing at the forefront of the major countries, based mainly on economic development, and strategic expansion in partnership with other countries through initiatives based on extending stability and reaping mutual benefit.
The backbone of Chinese foreign policy is the initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, under the title “The Belt and Road Initiative”, which is based on the idea of the defunct Silk Road, and seeks to establish a network of interests and infrastructure centered in China through a huge series of development projects that cross borders and continents by establishing land, sea and railway corridors, transporting goods in both directions around the world with unified systems and laws, preventing the repetition of customs imposition and limiting the obstruction of the passage of goods, which will contribute to their movement faster and greater, to be the largest infrastructure project in human history.
China, in partnership with more than 100 countries, has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to serve this initiative and finance its projects.
It has become clear to everyone who observes China’s development in the military, economic, technological and social aspects, that the Chinese strategy is based on development, trade and economy, while politics comes after that, and that its main tool is the “Belt and Road”, and through it works to entice others that cooperation with China contributes to Creating local development, with the availability of loans and aid provided by China for infrastructure projects and public utilities, in light of Western economic weakness and the absence of its ability to real competition as a result of a number of reasons; The most prominent of which is the Russian-Ukrainian war, and the effects of a pandemic, which facilitates China’s mission and gives it a great opportunity to advance in its international relations.
China is also aware that the United States of America, which repeatedly draws red lines for Beijing, is continuing its policy of preparing for war with it, but it wants an Asian proxy war that drains the Asian continent, just as the Russian-Ukrainian war does with Russia and Europe. It mobilizes China’s opponents against it in strategic groupings, such as Australia, Japan and India, although India realizes that a war of this kind could lead to aborting its chances of becoming a great power as well, but the matter could be different with a strong and stubborn historical opponent like Japan.
Of course, talking about war here does not mean a global war similar to the First and Second World Wars, but rather a relatively limited regional war that impedes China’s development and prevents it from growing for a long time, as a result of which the United States will maintain world leadership for additional decades.
There is no doubt that the Russian-Ukrainian war gave China a future model of the ways and means that can be used against it by the United States and its Western allies in a possible war against it, especially with Washington’s continuous work to establish a strategic cordon around China in South and East Asia to limit its expansion and prepare for confrontation. coming with it, which the United States and China realize is only a matter of time.
On the other hand, China is always trying to present itself to the world as a non-colonial and non-expansionist power, whose approach is different in its foreign strategy from the Western powers that aim to dominate weaker countries and sow discord between them. The Chinese strategy is based on respecting the privacy of others, and not interfering in their affairs. internal, and mutual benefit, and it has undoubtedly created a great deal of credibility in this field.
China, through concluding huge partnerships with various countries of the world, especially in the Middle East, was able to create common interests and mutual trust with these countries. From political instability, it is concerned with making the region between the Sea of Japan and the Mediterranean a relatively calm area, suitable for development and implementation of initiative projects, and securing energy sources in the Gulf, the largest energy provider for Beijing. Therefore, it began offering peace initiatives between the opposing parties in the Asian continent as the most reliable and impartial guarantor, and that the results of the existing partnerships with China will be greater and more beneficial if peace is achieved between the litigants, which will result in development and economic growth and thus prosperity for these countries, similar to what happened in China in the past decades.
Perhaps the most prominent of these problems that China is seeking to solve are the differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia, because both sides are of great importance to China. Reforming the relationship between them means disarming the Islamic world, which China considers a natural future ally against Western hegemony, and making it more stable and powerful, as well. The polarization of Saudi Arabia and the bulk of the Islamic world, which usually aligns with the Western world, means creating a rift between the United States and its allies, and thus weakening Washington. Any development in relations with the Islamic world, whether between Saudi Arabia and Iran or with Turkey; It is a great achievement for Chinese policy at the strategic level.
In addition, the huge network of interests that China is seeking to weave across the Asian continent, of which Iran and Saudi Arabia will be an essential part, can convince everyone that the losses that will be caused by any war between the two parties are much greater than the desired benefits, especially since the guarantor of this state of stability is China. This could mean – from the Gulf point of view – that there is no need for the American security umbrella. As for Iran, it is interested in improving its deteriorating economic situation and improving its presence in the Islamic world, and its distorted image on the international level as a result of the relative isolation it has been living in for nearly 40 years. The United States and Israel from this emerging situation.
Stability in the Arab and Islamic region does not only mean that the need for American protection will decrease, but it will also lead to a decline in the need for normalization with Israel. As there is no meaning to a relationship with it as long as the Arab regimes that considered it the gateway to influence in the United States see that its role is greatly declining, just as Israel today is in a very bad situation on the internal and external levels as well. Any investment or partnership with it is very costly and of questionable results, in addition to that Israel will constitute a free competitor to these regimes, especially to Saudi Arabia, which wants to lead the region, and the result is the absence of the Arab need for a relationship with Israel, and a decline process of normalization.
As for China’s relations with Israel, which began in the early eighties, they stem mainly from China’s interest in obtaining Western technology, especially military ones, at any price, in order to reduce the gap between it and the United States, and Israel represents a gateway for smuggling this technology to it. China has also invested in some projects of the Israeli occupation, especially the port of Haifa, because it believes that it can manufacture railways starting from the Sultanate of Oman in the Gulf to the port of Haifa and then to Europe and the rest of the world, as part of the Belt and Road initiative that we referred to previously, but the implementation of this is a matter too complicated.
Although ideological considerations in China these days have receded a lot, China is essentially a revolutionary regime, and is fully aware that Israel is a Western colonial project that will not leave the United States and stand by it in any future confrontation. We will see – most likely – a decline in Chinese interest in the relationship with Israel over time. This is because the technological gap between China and the West has already shrunk dramatically, due to Chinese technological progress, and thus its need for Israel as a back door to smuggle Western technology has diminished, just as the American pressure on Israel will continue until it forces it to reduce this type of relationship to Lowest level.
It has become known, of necessity, that there is a multipolar world order taking shape, and that China has shifted from a state of retreat and neutrality to a state of initiative in foreign policy, based on the economic factor and its larger project “The Belt and Road” initiative in light of the decline of American influence. The urgent question is about the choices and future of the Arab and Islamic countries in light of this formed system and their role in it, especially since all international powers seek to attract them to their side.