The Arabs and China: The Future of Relations with a Rising Power

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has published The Arabs and China: The Future of Relations with a Rising Power, which includes selected studies discussing Arab-Chinese relations, presented by a group of researchers and academics at a conference of the same title, which was held by the Arab Center in Doha, May 2016, in the context of the "Arabs and the World" conferences series.

This book (584 pp) consists of an introduction by the book's editor, Marwan Kablan, and 16 chapters spread accross 4 sections.

In the first section, which looks at the historical and cultural dimension between the seventh and the twentieth century, three chapters consider this topic. The first chapter explores Arab-Chinese relations and maritime trade from the seventh century to the tenth century AD, looking at the political, commercial, military and cultural phenomena that contributed to the formation and development of exchanges between Arabs and the Chinese. Archeological finds, textual sources and maps dating back to the tenth century AD, confirm the nature of the distinguished historical relationship between the Arabs and China, due to the parties' interest in commercial exchange via land and maritime routes. The second chapter looks into the Islamic revival movement in China from 1912 – 1949 in order to monitor the phenomenon of religious revival of the Muslims of China, following and analyzing its impact on crystallizing conformity between Islamic values and political and social developments since the end of the nineteenth century. It also discussed the factors leading to their noticeable activity and their participation in associations, organizations and newspaper publishing, as well as the activity of the Holy Quran Translation Movement. The third chapter discusses China's position on the 1956 Suez crisis as a crisis that followed Egypt's recognition of China in the same year.

The second section is dedicated to Chinese Strategy in the Arab World and consists of four chapters. Chapter Four looks at Chinese energy policies, arguing that the rapid economic growth of China, its dependence on external energy sources, and its quiet diplomacy in securing its energy needs, met the requirements of development and maximized its military strength and regional ambitions. Chapter Five examines Chinese contributions to Middle East security and the two strategies proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013: the economic belt of the Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road in the twenty-first century. The rapid economic growth of China is expanding as it meets commercial interests and searches for foreign markets to promote its goods. The sixth chapter explores the Arab region in the Chinese strategy, while chapter seven looks at Chinese foreign policy from the perspective of 'Strategic Culture', and the issue of China's reluctance to use its inherent tools to play the role of the superpower.

In the third section, looking at economic cooperation, there are three chapters. Chapter 8 raises questions about the pivotal role of the GCC countries in the Belt and Road Initiative, which shares with China an important geographical location that allows it to play a fundamental role in trade exchange with the Middle East, Africa and Europe, followed by the size of energy reserves. Chapter Nine investigates China's Role in the Middle East Peace Process from the perspective of the Belt and the Road perspective arguing that China needs to reconsider its role towards the Palestinian issue if it wants to raise its position as a great and responsible state. Chapter ten considers the Chinese strategy for the Arab world and the dualism of strategic forces affecting the Arab world, i.e. China as an emerging power and the United States of America as a dominant force.

The fourth section dissects Chinese relations with the Middle East and Africa across six chapters, the first of which assesses Sino-Libyan Relations and the logic of exploring foreign markets.  Chapter 12 considers Chinese politics in the Syrian crisis and tracks the development of Chinese policy in Syria, while the thirteenth chapter explores the rise of China in the Gulf, Iran and Pakistan. Chapter Fourteen discusses China's Relations with Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and monitors the data that helped the growing strength and presence of China in the Middle East, arguing that China's relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia in the energy field stems from mutual benefit ties in the energy fields and trade, and that China is operating within a framework that guarantees its interests. Chapter 15 focuses on Israeli-Chinese relations after the end of the Cold War and finally, chapter 16 concludes the book with an assessment of Chinese strategy in Africa.

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