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China’s emerging role in the Arab world: From economic projects to political mediation

China is not only emerging as an economic player in the Arab World but is making its presence felt in the volatile politics of the region. Riding on the success of its role in bringing rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Beijing is trying its hand in addressing the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

Qin Gang, Chinese Foreign Minister, recently held separate telephonic conversations with his counterparts from both Israel and Palestine and advised them to relaunch peace talks and offered China’s good offices to mediate in the long-drawn conflict.

As Saudi Arabia, the Arab World’s biggest and richest country, continues to modernize itself, China is negotiating various deals with Riyadh. China and Saudi Arabia are negotiating a deal that could enable supply of Chinese UAVs to the Saudi Air Force, ET has learnt. A Chinese operator is also assisting Riyadh to set up a large-scale ocean park in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia will host the China-Arab business summit on June 11-12.

Egypt, another key player in the Arab World, is in talks for obtaining technology for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Egypt has sought transfer of technology of UAS through co-production of China’s UAS, ET has learnt. Interestingly, Egypt is also trying to revive its military industrial relationship with India.

In Iraq where China has made massive economic inroads, Shanghai Electric is assisting to set up gas turbine units in the Diyala Governorate. Power China in a smart move has also built schools in Iraq.

Meanwhile, in Morocco, another key player in the Arab world, China is trying to exploit Rabat’s strained ties with France and assist proposed expansion of the High Speed Rail project between Casablanca and Marrakech. The existing High Speed Rail (HSR) in Morocco has been financed by France. In China though, the track record of HSR is not smooth as it has faced accidents.

China and gas rich Qatar have decided to undertake joint research and development of electric vehicles on a commercial basis. In Oman, a Chinese cement factory has acquired nearly 60 per cent stake via Abra Holdings Limited, incorporated in Mauritius. China has also set up an automobile spare parts unit in Oman, ET has learnt.

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