Written by Abdullah Khurram
The Persian Gulf is located at the epicenter of many regional conflicts and at the heart of global energy politics. China, which has gained significant geopolitical and economic leverage in this oil-rich region in recent years, has therefore cultivated excellent relations with different sides, despite them having tremendous animosity towards each other. Indeed, Beijing has befriended Iran, as well as Sunni Gulf Arab nations that compete with the Islamic Republic as energy powers and geopolitical rivals. However, this gesture of cooperation is not only a recent phenomenon; in fact Chinese-Middle Eastern cooperation actually dates back to Emperor Wu in the Han Dynasty who sent his envoys to both Arab lands and Persia. Today, officials in Beijing view this strategy as vital to ensuring China’s energy security irrespective of how Middle Eastern conflicts unfold.
Trade and Investment
Recently, the Chinese government has shown an interest in diversifying its sources of revenue by encouraging exports of services, having announced a target of USD 1 trillion exports by 2020. This could give a boost to Chinese companies setting up their businesses within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). For example, multiple companies from China are already establishing their Middle East branches in the UAE’s free zones. As strong financial centers Dubai and Doha also serve as regional hubs for Chinese banks to provide services to their companies in the region.
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