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Israel– China relations and the pervasive annoyance shown by the United States

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Photo: Feng Yongbin / China Daily

Israel was the first of the Near and Middle East countries to recognise the People’s Republic of China in 1950, while diplomatic relations have been established since January 24, 1992.

It is important to recall that the relations between Chinese and Jews are deeply rooted in the long history of these two peoples and go back thousands of years.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, government officials, scientists, universities and companies have carried out many programmes – through delegations – to deepen special cooperation on various issues such as economy, agriculture, technology and education.

Significant examples of the strengthening of relations can be found, inter alia, in the frequent visits of Chinese government officials to Israel and vice versa. For example, many Israeli Prime Ministers and Presidents have visited China over the years, as have their Chinese counterparts, such as the President of the Republic of China, Jiang Zemin, who visited the country in 2000, and the members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Liu Chi (2007) and Liu Yunshan (2009). Significant visits were also paid to the country by Vice Premier Hui Yang (2010), Vice Premier Liu Iandong (2016), and a senior representative of the Chinese Parliament, Wang Da (September 2015), etc.

Israel-China relations in many areas are gaining momentum and there is considerable enthusiasm for their nature and depth, particularly for all that relates to business and the supply of Israeli technology.

Over the years, a series of agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed between Israel and China to establish a free trade zone, to improve the mechanisms for granting visas to the citizens of the other country and to increase airline flights, with the aim of maximising the amount of goods, workers and tourists coming in and out.

China is also the only country in the world with which Israel has a mutual agreement to issue multiple-visit visas for a long period of time. These have borne immediate fruit, with over 100,000 Chinese tourists who have come to Israel since 2018. This means that more tourists come to Israel from China than tocountries such as Italy, Canada and Australia.

  The different needs of the two countries are reflected in the nature of the goods and services they purchase from each other. Electronic components account for about half of Israel’s exports to China, and the rest is divided between chemicals, medical equipment, instrumentation, control, etc. Instead, imports from China focus on electrical machinery and equipment, textiles and metals.

China’s weaknesses are precisely the strengths of the Israeli market. Large-scale internal migration, accelerated urbanisation processes, lack of drinking water and management of severe environmental pollutants are some of China’s huge challenges.

  Israel can rise up to these challenges with the help of advanced medical technologies, agricultural developments for increasing water shortages and difficult soil conditions, and innovative desalination technologies, etc. The match between the needs of China and Israel is perfect.

Furthermore, Israel has not been indifferent to the One Belt One Road (the Silk Road), i.e. the ambitious plan to connect the world with a network of roads, railways, lanes, ports and harbours, funded by the Asian Infrastructure Bank.

Israel has joined as a member of the Aib, striving to promote the involvement of Israeli companies in Chinese infrastructure projects and to position Israel as a strategic transition country in the trade routes of the modern Silk Road. Meanwhile, Chinese companies are involved in major infrastructure projects in Israel, such as the Minharot Ha Carmel (Carmel Tunnels) project, the construction and operation of the ports of Ashdod and Haifa, as well as the construction of a football stadium and light metro in Gush Dan, etc.

The economic revival of China-Israel relations, together with the leading status of China’s economy in recent years, have led many companies and executives to recognise the attractiveness of the Chinese market and the importance of learning about the Chinese economy and culture.

Obviously all this can only annoy the Administration of the bumbling U.S. President, Joe Biden, who is also supervising China-Israel relations, since Israel is about to be regarded by the White House as its own semi-colony.

According to the United States, Israel should start a rethinking dialogue with Biden’s Administration leading to an understanding of the Israel-China relation pattern so as not to “harm” the important U.S. interests.

  The hopes of those who thought that Joe Biden’s election as U.S. President might ease the transatlantic pressure on Israel with regard to China have been dashed. Not only will the pressure not diminish, but it is also likely to increase.

Former Trump administration’s continued insistence on reducing Chinese involvement in Israel has been one of the key issues in the U.S.-Israeli agenda over the last two years. U.S. officials have warned their Israeli counterparts that the lack of a Jewish response would seriously undermine security cooperation between the two countries.

  Instead, President Biden and his Administration’s plans should be more careful and encourage cooperation between the powers in specific areas, including the fight against climate change. At the same time, during the election campaign, Biden was more threatening than Trump on a number of China-related issues. Biden described the repression of Uygur Muslims (Weiwuer) in Xinjiang as “genocide” and called President Xi Jinping a “thug”. Not to mention the clumsy President’s epithets against Putin.

After all, one of the clumsy President’s gimmicks in U.S. foreign policy is to rebuild relations with allies in view of a Salem-style crusade against China.

There is no reason to believe that Biden’s Administration will not expect from Israel what it expects from the rest of its allies. The illusion that Israel can continue to “do business as usual” with China and “get along” with U.S. demands is dangerous, because -as already said – Israel is not a U.S. colony.

Moreover, Israeli attempts not to submit to White House diktats could harm not only the relations between the Israeli government and the U.S. Administration, but also the relations with its most significant supporters in the Senate and Congress, who share China’s alleged threat to the United States.

The assessment that China is a tough adversary and a threat to the U.S. national security is the only political-strategic issue on which Democrats and Republicans agree.

For this reason, it is hard to believe that the United States will ignore Chinese investment in Israeli high-tech industry and cooperation between Israeli and Chinese research institutes in the high-tech sector: Big Data, artificial intelligence and cyber issues.

In terms of U.S. national interest, reducing China’s access to advanced technologies is a critical issue. Therefore, the U.S. interference in trade and financial relations in the high-tech industry and in research and development cooperation between Israel and China is probably only a matter of time.

In the two previous crises with the United States over defence exports to China (some fifteen and twenty years ago), Israel believed it would get away with it; hence it tried to implement the agreements with China “and get along” with the United States. In the end, Israel got out badly and there was a crisis in relations with both the United States and China.

In the race for technological superiority, the United States could see the sharing of Israeli knowledge and products with China as a far more significant threat to its national security than radar systems and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

The Israeli government’s ability to deal with the United States will be severely damaged if its policy towards China is presented as undermining U.S. national security.

Under these circumstances, the Israeli government – under threat – will surely change its approach to the issue, rather than wait for pressure and hope for the best. Israel should start a dialogue on an equal footing with Biden’s Administration to promote an understanding of the pattern of relations between Israel and China so as not to harm important U.S. interests. This could enable Israel to have a respectful dialogue with China on the future relations between the two countries.

  As such, this would not be a ‘surrender’ to U.S. diktats. If the Israeli government expects the United States to start using the blackmail of Israeli interests vis-à-vis Iran, Israel in turn should show consideration for U.S. interests vis-à-vis China.

At the same time, however, Israel shall assess China’s aims and moves in the Near and Middle East region and develop a clear policy with it, by developing instruments and channels to achieve its aims in relations with China, without letting the United States put a spoke in its wheel or clip its wings.

Regarding Iran-Israel scenario issues, China has reiterated its proposal to hold an international meeting with the participation of all the countries involved in the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of July 14, 2015 between Iran and the five UN Security Council countries, plus Germany and the European Union), including the United States, to discuss the U.S. return to the agreement.

On the eve of the first telephone conversation between the U.S. and Chinese Presidents (February 11, 2021), a meeting took place between the U.S. special envoy on the Iranian issue and the Chinese vice-Foreign Minister to coordinate moves in this regard. The proactive mediation on the Iranian nuclear issue may be part of a broad Chinese policy designed to promote cooperation with Biden’s Administration on issues of substance for the United States, in exchange for maintaining important interests for China – such as the relations with Israel – and as part of its position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Few considerations are now appropriate with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic. While Western pharmaceutical companies operate as independent, for-profit commercial entities, the Chinese government leads and orients the research and development efforts of its own governmental and private companies in the same way and integrates them as instruments into its policies through official visits on the international scene, cooperation agreements, vaccination commitments or loans. Therefore, as shown by the map of vaccination certificates in various countries, the vaccines developed in China are among the most sought-after ones.

Israel’s urban population is concentrated and dense. After the pandemic broke out, Covid-19 spread faster. In view of preventing its spread, multiple Israeli departments have strengthened joint prevention and control. At the same time, the Israeli government actively participates in international cooperation, and uses video conferences to learn from China’s anti-epidemic experience.

  In conclusion, political diplomacy and the care with which China deals with every aspect, ranging from foreign affairs to health issues, pays off more than clumsy words tossed around randomly.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Middle East

Israel and Turkey in search of solutions

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Twelve and eleven years have elapsed since the Davos and Mavi Marmara incidents, respectively, and Turkey-Israel relations are undergoing intense recovery efforts. They are two important Eastern neighbours and influence regional stability.

Currently, as in the past, relations between the two countries have a structure based on realpolitik, thus pursuing a relationship of balance/interest, and hinge around the Palestinian issue and Israel’s position as the White House’s privileged counterpart. However, let us now briefly summarise the history of Turkish-Jewish relations.

The first important event that comes to mind when mentioning Jews and Turks is that when over 200,000 Jews were expelled by the Spanish Inquisition in 1491, the Ottoman Empire invited them to settle in its territory.

Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognise Israel in 1949. Israel’s first diplomatic Mission to Turkey was opened on January 7, 1950 but, following the Suez crisis in 1956, relations were reduced to the level of chargé d’affaires. In the second Arab-Israeli war of 1967, Turkey chose not to get involved and it did not allow relations to break off completely.

The 1990s saw a positive trend and development in terms of bilateral relations. After the second Gulf War in 1991 -which, as you may recall, followed the first Iraqi one of 1980-1988 in which the whole world was against Iran (with the only exception of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Libya and the moral support of Enver Hoxha’s Albania) – Turkey was at the centre of security policy in the region. In that context, Turkey-Israel relations were seriously rekindled.

In 1993, Turkey upgraded diplomatic relations with Israel to ambassadorial level. The signing of the Oslo Accords between Palestine and Israel led to closer relations. The 1996 military cooperation agreement was signed between the two countries in the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey, which provided significant logistical and intelligence support to both sides.

In the 2000s, there was a further rapprochement with Israel, due to the “zero problems with neighbours” policy promoted by Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party. I still remember issue No. 3/1999 of the Italian review of geopolitics “Limes” entitled “Turkey-Israel, the New Alliance”.

In 2002, an Israeli company undertook the project of modernising twelve M-60 tanks belonging to the Turkish armed forces. In 2004, Turkey agreed to sell water to Israel from the Manavgat River.

Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to Israel in 2005 was a turning point in terms of mediation between Palestine and Israel and further advancement of bilateral relations. In 2007, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas spoke at the Turkish Grand National Assembly one day apart. High-level visits from Israel continued.

On December 22, 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert came to Ankara and met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In that meeting, significant progress was made regarding Turkey’s mediation between Israel and Syria.

Apart from the aforementioned incidents, the deterioration of Turkish-Israeli relations occurred five days after the above stated meeting, i.e. Operation “Cast Lead” against Gaza on December 27, 2008. After that event, relations between the two sides were never the same as before.

Recently, however, statements of goodwill have been made by both countries to normalise political relations. In December 2020, President Erdoğan stated he wanted to improve relations with Israel and said: “It is not possible for us to accept Israel’s attitude towards the Palestinian territories. This is the point in which we differ from Israel – otherwise, our heart desires to improve our relations with it as well”.

In its relations with Israel, Turkey is posing the Palestinian issue as a condition. When we look at it from the opposite perspective, the Palestinian issue is a vital matter for Israel. It is therefore a severe obstacle to bilateral relations.

On the other hand, many regional issues such as Eastern Mediterranean, Syria and some security issues in the region require the cooperation of these two key countries. For this reason, it is clear that both sides wish at least to end the crisis, reduce rhetoric at leadership level and focus on cooperation and realpolitik areas.

In the coming months, efforts will certainly be made to strike a balance between these intentions and the conditions that make it necessary to restart bilateral relations with Israel on an equal footing. As improved relations with Israel will also positively influence Turkey’s relations with the United States.

Turkey seeks to avoid the USA and the EU imposing sanctions that could go so far as to increase anti-Western neo-Ottoman rhetoric, while improved relations with Israel could offer a positive outcome not only to avoid the aforementioned damage, but also to solve the Turkish issues related to Eastern Mediterranean, territorial waters, Libya and Syria. Turkey has no intention of backing down on such issues that it deems vital. Quite the reverse. It would like to convey positive messages at the level of talks and Summits.

Another important matter of friction between Turkey and Israel is the use of oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean reserves between Egypt, Israel, Greece and Cyprus (Nicosia).

This approach is excluding Turkey. The USA and the EU also strongly support the current situation (which we addressed in a previous article) for the additional reason that France has been included in the equation.

The alignment of forces and fronts in these maritime areas were also widely seen during the civil war in Libya, where Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France, as well as other players such as Russia, Italy, etc. came into the picture.

Ultimately, a point of contact between Turkey and Israel is the mediation role that the former could play in relations between Iran and Israel, especially after the improvement of Turkish-Iranian relations.

Indeed, in the aftermath of the U.S. airstrike in Baghdad – which killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3, 2020 -the Turkish Foreign Minister stated that the U.S. action would increase insecurity and instability in the region. He also reported that Turkey was worried about rising tensions between the United States and Iran that could turn Iraq back into an area of conflict to the detriment of peace and stability in the region. There was also a condolence phone call from President Erdoğan to Iranian President Rouhani, urging him to avoid a conflictual escalation with the United States following the airstrike.

Consequently, it is in the Turkish President’s interest to maintain an open channel with Iran, so that he himself can soften the mutual tensions between Israel and Iran, and – in turn – Israeli diplomacy can influence President Biden’s choices, albeit less pro-Israel than Donald Trump’s.

Turkey is known to have many relationship problems with the United States – especially after the attempted coup of July 15-16, 2016 and including the aforementioned oil issue – and realises that only Israel can resolve the situation smoothly.

In fact, Israel-USA relations are not at their best as they were under President Trump. President Erdoğan seems to be unaware of this fact, but indeed the Turkish President knows that the only voice the White House can hear is Israel’s, and certainly not the voice of the Gulf monarchies, currently at odds with Turkey.

Israel keeps a low profile on the statements made by President Erdoğan with regard to the Palestinians- since it believes them to be consequential – as well as in relation to a series of clearly anti-Zionist attitudes of the Turkish people.

We are certain, however, that President Erdoğan’s declarations of openness and Israeli acquiescence will surely yield concrete results.

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Middle East

The 25-year China-Iran agreement

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On March 27, 2021, a document entitled “Comprehensive Document of Iran-China Cooperation” was signed by Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, and his Chinese counterpart. The Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had previously called “the agreement between the presidents of Iran and China correct and wise.” However, the Iranian people have widely criticized it as entirely against their national interests. Iranian officials have not even publicized the document’s contents yet probably because it is highly contentious.

In 2019, excerpts from this document were revealed by the Economist Petroleum news site. The details included:

  • China invests $460 billion in Iranian oil and transportation sectors. China will get its investment back from the sale of Iranian crude during the first five years.
  • China buys Iranian petroleum products at least 32% cheaper.
  • The Chinese can decide before other companies whether to participate in completing all or part of a petrochemical project.
  • 50,000 Chinese security personnel will be deployed to protect Chinese projects in Iran.
  • China has the right to delay the repayment of its debts for up to two years in exchange for Iranian products’ purchase.
  • At least one Russian company will be allowed to participate in the Tabriz-Ankara gas pipeline design together with the Chinese operator.
  • Every year, 110 senior Revolutionary Guards officers travel to China and Russia for military training. 110 Chinese and Russian advisers will be stationed in Iran to train Revolutionary Guards officers.
  • Development of Iranian military equipment and facilities will be outsourced to China, and Chinese and Russian military aircraft and ships will operate the developed facilities.

Even some circles within the regime have criticized the agreement. The state-run Arman newspaper wrote, “China has a 25-year contract with Iran and is investing $460 billion in Iran. It is somewhat ambiguous. Presently, China is holding the money it owes us and blames it on the U.S. sanctions. How can we trust this country to invest $460 billion in Iran?”

Last year, Iran and China had the lowest trade in the previous 16 years, and according to statistics, by the end of 2020, the volume of trade between Iran and China was about $16 billion, which, including undocumented oil sales, still does not reach $20 billion.

Jalal Mirzaei, a former member of Iran’s parliament, said: “If in the future the tensions between Tehran and Washington are moderated, and we see the lifting of some of the sanctions, China can also provide the basis for implementing the provisions of this document, but if the situation continues like today, Beijing will not make any effort to implement the document, as it is essentially unable to take concrete action on the ground because of the sanctions.”

China’s objectives

Iran is vital to China in two ways, through its geopolitical location and its geo-economic importance. China knows that it does not have enough natural resources and is currently having a hard time supplying them from Russia and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia supplies its energy needs from oil giant Aramco, half of which is owned by the United States. That is why China is looking for a safe alternative that the United States will not influence, and the only option is Iran. They may also have a two-pronged plan in Iran, which involves using Iran’s profitable market and making Iran into a lever of pressure against the United States for additional concessions.

The Iranian regime’s objectives

The deal could deepen China’s influence in the Middle East and undermine U.S. efforts to isolate the Iranian regime. While the international dispute over the Iranian regime’s nuclear program has not been resolved, it is unclear how much this agreement could be implemented. The regime intends to make it a bargaining chip in possible future nuclear negotiations. However, some of Iran’s top authorities believe that China and Russia cannot be trusted 100 percent.

Due to the sanctions, the regime has a tough time to continue providing financial support to its proxy militias in the region. The regime also faced two major domestic uprisings in 2017 and 2019. Khamenei’s regime survived the widespread uprisings by committing a massacre, killing 1,500 young protesters in the 2019 uprising alone, according to the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and later confirmed by the Iranian regime’s Interior Ministry officials. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, Khamenei has been able to delay another major uprising.

Iran’s economy is on the verge of collapse. Khamenei must bow to western countries’ demands regarding the nuclear issue, including an end to its regional interventions and its ballistic missile program. Khamenei will struggle to save his regime from s imminent uprisings and a deteriorating economy that will undoubtedly facilitate more protests by the army of the unemployed and the hungry at any moment.

Unlike the 2015 JCPOA, the Iranian regime in 2021 is in a much weaker position. In fact, by many accounts, it is the weakest in its 40-year history. By signing the recent Iran-China agreement and auctioning Iranian resources, Khamenei wants to pressure the United States to surrender and restore the 2015 JCPOA as quickly as possible. But in the end, this pivot will not counteract domestic pressures that target the regime’s very existence.

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Middle East

China-Arab Relations: From Silk to Friendship

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China and the Arabs have a long and rich economic and cultural history, and this distinguished relationship still exists today, with a promising future. This bilateral relationship between the two nations is based on the principles of respect and non-interference in internal affairs or foreign policies. Therefore, China’s relationship with the Arabs as well as with other nations is unique and a model to be followed. If you meet a Chinese person, the first phrase will be “Alabo” or an Arab in Mandarin, and he/she will welcome you. The Chinese state’s dealings with its counterparts can be measured based on the model of this Chinese citizen. China deals with the Arabs on the basis of friendship and historical ties.

The history of Sino-Arab relations goes back to the Tang Dynasty, and these relations developed with the flourishing of trade between the two nations. Since China was famous for its high quality silk, this trade route was called the “Silk Road”. Baron Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen, better known in English as Baron von Richthofen, was a German traveller, geographer, and scientist. He is noted for coining the terms “Seidenstraße” and “Seidenstraßen” = “Silk Road” or “Silk Route” in 1877.

Chinese-Arab relations have developed in contemporary history. In 1930, China established official relations with the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A library in China was named the “Fouad Islamic Library”, after the late Egyptian king, “Fuad the First”. In 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser cut ties with China and established relations with the Communist People’s Republic of China and inaugurated an embassy in Egypt. In the same year, the Arab League established relations with the People’s Republic of China. By the year 1990, all Arab countries cut their relations with the Republic of China and established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

In 2004, the China-Arab Cooperation Forum was established, and today it is considered a milestone for the Sino-Arab relationship. At its inauguration, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing delivered a speech stating:“The Arab world is an important force on the international scene, and that China and the Arab countries have enjoyed a long friendship. Our similar history, our common goals and our broad interests have been credited with enhancing cooperation between the two sides; no matter how the international situation changes, China has always been the sincere friend of the Arab world”. The China-Arab Cooperation Forum was officially established during the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to the headquarters of the League of Arab States in January of 2004.

Hu Jintao indicated at that time that the formation of the forum is a continuation of the traditional friendship between China and the Arab world. The Chinese president said at the time, “The establishment of the forum is conducive to expanding mutual cooperation in a variety of fields. He added that China had made four proposals; First, maintaining mutual respect, fair treatment and sincere cooperation at the political level. Second, strengthening economic and trade relations through cooperation in the fields of investment and trade, contracted projects, labor services, energy, transportation, communications, agriculture, environmental protection and information. Third, expand cultural exchanges. Finally, conducting training for the employees.”

During the second session of the forum in Beijing in 2006, China showed its sympathy for the issues of the Arab world and its interest in the peace process between Palestine and Israel, since China is a peace-loving country; it presented the idea of “a nuclear-free Middle East”. China is the best friend of the Arab countries today. Although some Arab countries have strong relations with the West whose policy does not match the Chinese policy, but all Arab countries agree on friendly and good relations with the People’s Republic of China.

The Arab citizen is not interested today in the foreign policy of the US, the deadly weapons of the US and Russia, or European culture, but rather the livelihood and economy, and this is what China provides through its wise economic policy. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the Belt and Road Initiative, or New Silk Road, which will restore glow to China-Arab relations; as the Arab world is in a strategic location on the initiative map. Thus, the Arab countries are an important partner for China in the initiative. Although the volume of trade exchanges between China and the Arab countries exceeded 200 billion US dollars, which increased 10 times over the past decade, there was no commercial and institutional arrangement to facilitate trade between the two sides.

China, as a peaceful and non-invasive country, aims to promote economic cooperation with Arab region on an equal basis because it considers the Arab world a historic partner. The historical experience of the Arabs with the Chinese through the Silk Road has confirmed that China differs from the nations of colonialism and imperialism, which consider the Arab region a place rich in natural resources only. In his historic speech at the Arab League, Chinese President Xi stressed that China will not seek to extend influence and search for proxies in the Middle East. The Chinese initiatives will contribute to establishing security and stability through economic development and improving the people’s livelihood, in line with the post-2015 development agenda and the aspirations of the Arab people for a better life, as the Chinese experience proves that development is the key to digging out the roots of conflicts and extremism in all its forms.

China is a neutral country and does not favor the use of violence. During the Syrian crisis, for example, the Chinese envoy to the Security Council raised his hand three times, meaning that China, with its wise diplomacy, supported the Syrian regime without entering the military war. During the recent Chinese military parade, Chinese President Xi Jinping revealed some Chinese military capabilities and thus sent a message to the enemies that China will always be ready if a war is imposed on it, and a message of support to China’s allies. The Arab region today needs a real partner who possesses economic and military power and international political influence, such as China; to ensure the success of the Belt and Road Initiative, and to consolidate the China-Arab relations and raise it to the level of a strategic alliance.

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