A contingent of the Chinese Navy, the second biggest and in many ways the most modern in the world, has entered the Persian Gulf for joint exercises with the Iranian Navy.
Although China is generally far less vocal about Middle Eastern affairs than the other two of the three world super-powers, Russia and the United States, China’s position and alignment in the Middle East is clear. China has relations with all countries of the Middle East and does commerce with most of them as indeed China is the undisputed king of world commerce.
However, a critical factor is that when it comes to ‘choosing sides’, China is politically aligned with Russia and Iran in their fight against terrorism in Syria. Chinese officials have consistently supported the Russian and Iranian view that the sovereignty of the Syrian government must be respected and that Syria’s territorial integrity must not be compromised by illegal war or extra-legal partition.
The current exercises with Iran in the Persian Gulf will send a clear message to countries like Saudi Arabia who recently shot at two Iranian fishing boats which Saudi alleges breached its territorial waters. One Iranian fisherman was killed in a show of force that can only be described as totally disproportionate.
Rear Admiral Shen Hao, Commander of China Navy Task Force Group 150 spoke positively of the cooperation with Iran on issues like tackling piracy, search and rescue operations and general security.
As reported by al-Masdar News, Shen Hao said that China and Iran are two ancient civilised countries of Asia with a long history of friendship.
These words will not be lost on aggressive states like Saudi Arabia, a country not shy about its desire to provoke a regional war with Iran.
Iran’s military is vastly stronger than the famously undisciplined Saudi forces. With China now in the region conducting drills with Iran, Saudi ought to think twice about its military adventurism.