As the trade war between the US and China worsens, the world’s major economic centers are taking positions and joining one side in the dispute. To obtain support and cooperation in times of trade war, both countries have been using the most diverse tactics. The United States has imposed sanctions against European countries to prevent business with China, for example. But these coercive measures do not appear to be applicable to the entire world. In early July, the United States suffered a severe blow in the dispute with China, with the declaration of cooperation and support issued by the entire Arab League to the Asian country.
The decision came at the last meeting of the Sino-Arab Cooperation Forum, which includes all countries that are members of the Arab League. The Arab countries decided to declare support to China in the issue of Hong Kong, of Sinkiang, in combating the pandemic of the new coronavirus and publicly rejected any form of boycott or sanction against the Asian country, continuing the various cooperation projects already existing between the League and Beijing . In other words, the Arab countries took a side in the trade war and decided to support China. Considering the importance of the Arab world to the world economy, this was a real blow to the US.
The Arab countries are China’s largest source of oil, but an advanced project is underway to produce clean energy. The strategic importance of this project is immense: with such energy, the Arab countries intend to start their space exploration projects – an old objective of these countries. This energy cooperation between Arab oil and Chinese clean energy is one of the most promising currently. It is highly likely that, in retaliation, the recently announced cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and NASA will be canceled by Washington, which will further push the Arabs to seek Chinese support.
The Arab approach is purely pragmatic. The declared support for China is the result only of the advantages that Beijing shows with its cooperation proposals, in contrast to the American praxis, marked by the imposition of coercive measures and sanctions against opponents. What is winning, above all, is commercial diplomacy.
Another positive point for the choice of China by the Arabs, according to experts from all over the world, has been the strong medical and health support sent by Beijing to fight the pandemic. This Chinese support was essential to neutralize the infection in the Arab world, mainly in Palestine, for the Chinese sent not only equipment, but also a team of specialized doctors and provided funds for humanitarian aid. We can see Chinese health diplomacy has, in fact, been an important factor in the geopolitical dispute, through which China is able to strengthen relations of trust and political, economic and cultural ties with other countries.
A fundamental point that cannot be ignored is the issue of security. Arab pragmatism also takes into account which side conveys more security and represents less likelihood of wars and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa region. The recent Israeli decision to forcibly annex the West Bank has caused tensions across the Arab world. Even Arab countries that have good ties and peace agreements with Israel are condemning the decision. Likewise, Arab countries allied with the West severely criticized Netanyahu’s attitude. The United States continues to speak out in favor of Israel and alleging that the annexation of the West Bank is a decision that belongs only to Tel Aviv. On the other hand, China strongly supports the two-state solution, condemns Israeli expansionism and financially maintains several humanitarian aid projects for Palestinian refugees – in addition to the aforementioned support in fighting the pandemic, which saved Palestine from a sanitary collapse. If, in a global geopolitical dispute, one side supports a war in the Arab world and the other expressly condemns it, the Arab League’s decision to support the side that most favors security seems extremely right and strategic.
So, what about the relations between the US and the Arab League now? Will Washington impose sanctions? Will there be an economic boycott? Still, with the rise of the petroyuan and the de-dollarization of oil and, consequently, of the global economy, the United States becomes weaker in the conquest of the Arab market, while Beijing strengthens its ties with it. Either the US drastically changes its international praxis, or China wins the trade war.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.