China and the Future Alliance with Saudi Arabia: A New Regional And International Approach
18 March 2014
By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
Difficult years lie ahead, perhaps five or even as
many as ten. This future requires a new regional and
international approach. The US may no longer play the
prominent role it acquired after World War II, and
Europe will become more concerned with its southern
neighbors in North Africa. Other countries, such as
those in the Gulf, may have to create small blocs to
defend themselves. They may also have to establish
additional alliances based on larger, shared
Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz's visit to
China is of special importance. Saudi Arabia is
important to China as it is a prominent partner. On a
daily basis, China buys more than one million barrels
of oil from Saudi Arabia. And the Kingdom has an
important spiritual role for the Chinese Muslim
I was present on this visit to China. Previously, I
witnessed Saudi political openness towards China when
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz decided that China would
be the first country he visited as King. King
Abdulaziz thus ended a long era of ruptured relations
between the two states.
The problem is that the Chinese don't like politics
much. So, the important question is: How can one
seeking to protect his interests depend on this
sleeping giant? Countries that will confront new
challenges over the next few years will have to
protect their interests. Prominent countries such as
those in Europe and China know that relations with
stable countries are better than relations with
erratic countries or with countries such as Iran.
There are several signs which indicate China's desire
to expand the scope of its strategic interests and not
just the scope of its purchases. Oil and large-scale
investments are the foundations of a long-term
relationship between China and Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi delegation, which ended its visit on Sunday,
wanted to expand relations with China. This may
balance out Saudi Arabia's oil exports at a time when
the US says it is no longer interested in buying much
oil from the Gulf as it has enough domestic shale oil.
China itself is in a state of transition similar to
countries like Saudi Arabia—it is undergoing a gradual
transition, one that may appear slow.
Although it has been 20 years since my first visit to
China, the country continues to be mysterious and
interesting. Almost everything has changed in Beijing.
When I first visited, Beijing's wide streets were
packed with bicycles. There were tens of thousands of
them and very few cars. A dark cloud from the coal
used in heating systems covered the city. However,
China, its people and its ideology have now changed.
Despite this, the regime, which staged a
counter-revolution, hasn't, and it is trying to make a
gradual transition while avoiding chaos. This is how
China managed to become one of the richest and
strongest economies in the world. It is now at a point
where it wants access to new markets and wants to
cement new alliances.
This does not necessarily mean that China will replace
America, but it will be an important player on the
world stage. Also, its philosophy and practices are
different to Russia's, which has exposed its ugly side
wherever it has intervened.
Al Rashed is the general
manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the
leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also
a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al
Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree
in mass communications. He has been a guest on many TV
current affairs programs. He is currently based in