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

By Mohamed Bin Huwaidin | Go to book overview

6

China's relations with the countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council

CHINA AND KUWAIT

China and Kuwait before recognition

In the 1950s and most of the 1960s, Kuwait was an important British concern and an area of considerable interest to the United States. This was mainly due to its oil potential. Kuwait had the world's largest oil reserves and was ranked fourth in world oil production. Kuwait's oil production assumed a substantial significance in the early 1950s. The nationalization of Iranian oil in 1951 and the subsequent Western boycott of Iranian oil created heavy demand for Kuwait's oil. Therefore, British firms and personnel dominated development planning in Kuwait (Joyce 1998). The al-Sabah family favoured the presence of both the British and the Americans in Kuwait in the 1950s. Meanwhile, China was leaning toward the Soviet policy against the United States and the rest of the capitalist camp. Against this background, Beijing's policy toward Kuwait was a reflection of its alignment with Moscow. Thus, recognizing the socialist camp's weakness to exert any influence on Kuwait, the Chinese leadership classified the Kuwaiti regime as part of the capitalist camp headed by the United States. Even after the Bandung conference, China did not consider Kuwait to have the potential to wage a struggle against the West in the Arab world. The Kuwaiti regime remained loyal to the British and did not oppose the establishment of the Baghdad Pact, which China criticized heavily. Despite its support for Nasser's nationalist policies in the Arab world, the Kuwaiti regime did not advocate Nasser's anti-British propaganda in Kuwait. 1 While Egypt-Britain relations continued to deteriorate, KuwaitBritain relations remained unharmed.

However, one could argue that, while the Chinese lacked direct political

1 When Anwar Sadat, Nasser's closest associate, visited Kuwait in December in 1955, the Kuwaiti officials kept him busy so that he would not have a chance to promote anti-British sentiment to the Kuwaiti government.

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