China Unveils Plan to Cooperate Militarily With Arab States

Towards the end of 2022 the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced that it is ready to work with Arab states on initiatives to promote world security. Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for China’s Defense Ministry, made this announcement on December 29, 2022. 

According to the Defense Ministry spokesman, the collaboration’s goal is to “implement the consensus reached at the China-Arab States Summit, jointly promote global security initiatives, continue to deepen practical exchanges and cooperation,” in addition to making “new contributions to maintaining world peace and development.” 

“The armed forces of China and the Arab countries are important for maintaining peace and stability throughout the world. Relations between the armies of China and the Arab countries have developed rapidly and in a healthy way in recent years,” Tan stated at a press conference.

“The PLA is willing to work with the forces of the Arab countries to execute the consensus achieved at the Sino-Arab summit, jointly advance global security initiatives, and further expand practical cooperation,” Tan added.

December 9, 2022 was a historical moment for Sino-Arab relations after the first Sino-Arab summit was celebrated in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. The Cradle reported that this summit brought China and Arab states together, which included the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman. 

After the meeting, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that China and the Gulf Arab states are entertaining the idea of setting up a common free trade zone. In addition, Chinese strongman Xi Jinping said that Arab countries and China could facilitate industrial and economic integration along with the establishment of a mutual investment council. Xi highlighted certain projects to put payment systems online in local currencies.

“As strategic partners, China and Arab states should … foster a closer China-Arab community with a shared future, so as to deliver greater benefits to their peoples and advance the cause of human progress,” Xi said in his keynote speech.

Xi also urged Arab states to stay “independent and defend their common interests. He continued by noting that China “supports Arab states in independently exploring development paths suited to their national conditions and holding their future firmly in their own hands.”

The Chinese leader also called on leaders from the Middle East and Africa to incentivize “synergy between their development strategies, and promote high-quality [cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative].” 

Indeed, the unipolar moment, in which the US seemingly dominated all global affairs, appears to be over. Now the US is seeing its global standing on the world stage being challenged by countries such as China and Russia through their basic re-assertion of spheres of influence in their respective geopolitical domains.

If US policymakers can’t accept these new realities, they will

invariably put the US towards the path of imperial overreach and eventual decline.

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