China's Relations with Arabia and the Gulf, 1949-1999

By Mohamed Bin Huwaidin | Go to book overview

4

China's perceptions of the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula region
In the previous chapter, we discussed China's policy towards both the United States and the Soviet Union (and Russia). We argued that China's relations with the two powers were dominated by the change in China's own perceptions of its relations with both powers. In the Maoist era, China carried out every possible policy to undermine the influence of either or both superpowers. In the post-Maoist era, China's policies have transformed to reflect its own perception of change of power in the international system. Different foreign policy tactics and strategies have been carried out by the Chinese to suit the changes in the international system and to foster the achievement of China's own foreign policy objectives. Changes in China's relations with both Washington and Moscow have been coupled with internal change. China, who enjoyed a substantial level of economic growth in the 1990s, had found itself in need of independent international suppliers of energy and sources of investments and financial assistance. Thus, China's foreign policy towards the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula region could be explained in terms of the following two factors: first, China's perceptions of and relations with the United States and the Soviet Union; and, second, China's drive to increase its economic capabilities by ensuring the supply of oil to its own thirsty economy.In order to explore this argument, China's involvement in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula region will be divided into three main phases. In each of these phases, China's motives, objectives, and tactics have changed according to the changes in China's relations with both the United States and the Soviet Union and to its efforts to increase its economic and political capabilities. These phases are:
1 China's early involvement in the region (1949-1970);
2 China's pragmatic foreign policy towards the region (1971-1989);
3 China's economic interests in the Gulf region (1990-1999).

This Chapter therefore will examine all these three phases in the development of China's relations with the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula region.

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