Saudi Arabia

Smoke rises during an Israeli military bombardment of the northern Gaza Strip on 15 November 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Fadel Senna/AFP)

Israel-Hamas war testing credibility of China's Middle East strategy

Amid China's diplomatic efforts such as a visit to Beijing by Arab and Islamic countries this week, the Israel-Hamas war is bringing about a much-needed reality check on China's ambitions in the Middle East, says Jean-Loup Samaan, a senior research fellow at the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore.
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and US President Joe Biden shake hands next to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the day of the G20 summit in New Delhi, India, 9 September 2023. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/Reuters)

A Middle East commitment to IMEC would counter China’s regional influence

If given security guarantees from the US, it is hard to see how the Gulf states could not help implement IMEC, says RSIS academic James Dorsey. This may not disrupt their economic and trade ties with China in the short term, but they may be wary of constraints to strategic cooperation.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (left) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on 17 July 2023. (Saudi Press Agency/Handout via Reuters)

Ankara’s drone diplomacy in the Gulf complicates China’s regional calculations

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan headed to the Gulf last week seeking investments, he had a formidable bargaining chip — drone diplomacy. The top-of-the-line Turkish combat UAV, the Akinci, is much sought-after in Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia. China may be worried, as this development could threaten its leading position in the field and hinder its economic and diplomatic offensive in the Middle East.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with Chinese special envoy for Eurasian affairs Li Hui in Moscow, Russia, 26 May 2023. (Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Peacemaker role in Russia-Ukraine war could be a historic milestone for China

China’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs Li Hui's trip to Europe and Russia to discuss the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis could be a historic milestone for China, says academic Yuan Hang. The country has far played a marginal role in the shaping of European security affairs in the past century, but this could all change if recent approaches are sustained.
A cargo ship berths at Lianyungang port, in Jiangsu province, China, on 9 May 2023. (AFP)

Chinese exporters turn toward emerging markets

The diverging performance of China’s ports reflects a shift in trade for the world’s largest exporter. A growing proportion of shipments are destined for emerging markets such as countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Middle East and Latin America, and an increasing share of exports consist of intermediate goods and capital items. Meanwhile, the shift in demand for Chinese exports is driving up prices for container shipping, squeezing margins for China’s small, private exporters.
This picture shows a poster depicting King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud (left), the founder of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (centre), and Crown Prince Mohammed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 16 April 2023. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP)

Chinese firms flock to Saudi Arabia in Middle East gold rush

Chinese businesses are flocking to Saudi Arabia, in what they see as the latter's "reform and opening up" period of opportunities. While bilateral trade and investment has increased, the Chinese also see Saudi Arabia as a gateway for the Middle East market, in emerging fields such as cloud services and artificial intelligence, and as a vibrant venture capitalist hub.
This combination of pictures created on 26 April 2023 shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Genya Savilov and Vladimir Astapkovich/various sources/AFP)

Mediating the Russia-Ukraine war: China enters the ring

After more than a year since the war in Ukraine broke out, Chinese and Ukrainian presidents have finally spoken for the first time, and the outcome appears promising. Lianhe Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong notes that while sceptics believe that China could still be leaning towards the side of Russia, China has shown that it is taking its role as a mediator seriously and is prepared for it.
Ukrainian artillerymen prepare a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher to fire towards Russian positions on the frontline, in Donetsk region on 17 April 2023. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP)

Arms dealers cannot be peacemakers: Europe is a lesson for Asia

Even as Asia-Pacific countries want to focus on trade and economic cooperation, geopolitical tussling — especially between the US and China — has got in the way of such efforts. Former journalist and MP Goh Choon Kang says that at a time when arms dealers have apparently become peacemakers, countries of this region must stay focused and not be sidetracked and dictated by the powers.
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and First Lady Rosangela "Janja" da Silva (both with flowers in hand) being greeted on arrival by Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Xie Feng in Shanghai, China, 12 April 2023. (Ricardo Stuckert/Handout via Reuters)

Slowly but surely: China partnering Brazil to weaken US dollar hegemony?

After making headway with French President Emmanual Macron last week, China is set to further its economic cooperation with Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, notably with the decision to use their local currencies for cross-border trade instead of the US dollar. While there is still a long way to go for RMB internationalisation, China has certainly upped its game.