Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

May 2023 Al-Monitor PRO Trend Report 

3,513 words



Chinese and Gulf state dignitaries have had a productive spring. On May 7, the UAE’s nuclear energy authority finalized three agreements with its Chinese counterparts to develop nuclear infrastructure in the Emirates. Beijing admitted the UAE and Kuwait to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as “dialogue partners” just two days earlier. Saudi Arabia joined the bloc in late March, one week before reviving relations with Iran with the help of Chinese diplomats.

This signing spree may have surprised analysts a few years ago. Now, it reflects a truism in policy circles: China is deepening its engagement in the Middle East, and the region, by and large, is welcoming it. Beijing’s motivations have remained consistent over the past two decades. So too has its proclivity for economic integration (though recent forays into sensitive geopolitical quagmires signal a willingness and ability to expand its presence in politics). 

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