China's peaceful presence in the West Asian region and especially the Persian Gulf region is undergoing a creeping and increasing process while these regions were defined as the domain of Western allies and friends and interests of America since the decades after World War II.The occurrence of the Islamic revolution in Iran and the withdrawal of American forces from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the war in Yemen, etc. caused the countries of this region to reduce their dependence on the West and the United States and to seek new allies that can fill the vacuum of America and have such capability that it can provide their vital interests.
China's high economic growth in the last three decades has made this country take the second place in the world economy and even reach the first place in the world in some indicators. This trend has continued with little ups and downs, and the tendencies of the countries of the world towards China have made China's quiet and silent presence in all parts of the world, especially in West Asia, become more tangible every day.Even the global displeasure and disgust caused by the origin of the spread of the Covid-19 virus in China, which Donald Trump called the Chinese virus at the time, did not slow down China's global movement.
There is a famous proverb that says that before reaching the crossroads, the Chinese signal left but turn right. In other words, the Chinese are seeking to increase their all-round presence in the Persian Gulf region with a lot of patience and in accordance with their growth and economic capabilities, and the retreat of the United States from this region, especially during the presidency of Joe Biden, has doubled the Chinese motivation for an all-round presence in West Asia.
The presence of millions of Chinese citizens and companies as experts and technologists in various fields of technology in the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, the signing of huge contracts in the field of energy between these countries and China, especially in the field of oil and gas transactions, the visit of China President,Xi Jinping in November2022 to Riyadh and participating in a joint summit with the heads of the Gulf Cooperation Council (G.C.C.) countries and signing dozens of long-term economic, commercial, technological, military, weapons, etc. cooperation agreements with Saudi Arabia and other rich Arab countries in this area, and etc. has brought some concerns to the Americans and caused Biden's policy of withdrawing American forces from the region to be criticized.
Even now, the issue of reducing the use of the US dollar by a number of countries in the world and replacing it with the yuan (the currency of China), although it is at the beginning, but due to the abuse of the US dollar by this country and also by western banking institutions in sanctioning other countries and using the dollar as a weapon to isolate other countries has created a great incentive for countries such as Iran, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, etc., to abandon the dollar in their international exchanges and tend to yuan.
After Saudi Arabia officially joined the China-dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a negotiating member in late March 2023, now it seems that Riyadh will participate in the upcoming BRICS summit consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in August 2023 to formalize its presence in this economic bloc. Since Saudi Arabia is eyeing to join the BRICS group, there is a concern that Saudi Arabia's huge oil reserves, along with China's economic power, could damage the position of the US dollar in global exchanges.
According to the Washington Post, China's presence and military activity in the ports of the United Arab Emirates has caused concern for the United States because Washington fears that its interests will be sacrificed by China's proximity to its old ally, the United Arab Emirates. According to a leaked document on Discord that contains a roadmap, Beijing's efforts in the UAE are part of the People's Liberation Army's ambitious campaign to create a global military network that includes at least 5 foreign bases and 10 logistics support sites by 2030, and China's planned facilities in the Middle East and etc. It is said that the Chinese authorities refer to this initiative as "Project 141". The documents detail Beijing's aerial surveillance program and the country's development of hypersonic intelligence drones.
Looking at the current global trends and considering China's creeping and patient movement towards the Persian Gulf countries in the past decade, it is easy to predict China's expansionist position in this area in the next decade;a place where the Persian Gulf countries are the main supplier of energy needed by Chinese industries and the Chinese are also the main supplier of all kinds of needs of the countries of this area in the fields of technology, military, weapons, drones, artificial intelligence, etc., and the money they paid for the purchase of oil to the Persian Gulf countries is recovered by selling them advanced technologies
Hamidreza Badaghi, an expert of the Institute for Political and International Studies
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)