GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Impact of Arab Spring on China-Arab Gulf Relations
Paper Proposal Text :
The author believes that there has been a significant shift in the Chinese strategy in the Middle East, and that it has shifted its focus from certain Middle East countries, such as Egypt, Iran ,Yemen, Israel and the Maghreb to the Arab Gulf.

The Chinese demand for resources, especially oil and gas, and the transformation of state institutions, along with its ability to provide resource, market, and business opportunities to Chinese firms, are crucial factors in the shifting of Beijing’s attention.

This coincides with a strong desire by Gulf leaders for collaboration and partnership at all levels, coupled with a strong desire, especially in Saudi Arabia, to build more robust political, economic and cultural ties with China. This would mean support of a major political and economic ally, such as China, which can give the Saudi better room to maneuver, with their traditional western allies, and the ability to isolate and weaken Iran’s presence in the region.

However, the strategic disparity between the Chinese and Gulf countries vis-a-vis the Arab Spring, particularly in Syria’s case, may force these countries to rethink their new perception of China and its position, with special emphasis on politics and strategy. In addition, it may reinforce the Chinese concerns about the extent and degree of the western influence on decision-makers in a region that provides much of China’s energy.

The Arab Spring has shown that the Gulf strategy and policies, mainly those of Saudi Arabia, but other countries in the Middle East as well, are diverging from, if not in actual conflict with, China’s strategies and policies on the region. This paper discusses the possible repercussions of China’s stance on the Arab Spring and its effect on Chinese–Gulf relations, as well as the future of blitateral relations.