On Thursday, China launched its second annual China-Arab States Expo in Ningxia province, which the state-run Xinhua news agency describes as “home to more than 10 percent of China’s 20 million Muslims.” Don’t expect that total to be increasing by any significant number of Syrians any time soon.
The Expo is filled with “trade fairs and seminars on e-commerce, new energy, agriculture, education, tourism and medical care,” providing a festive environment for the Chinese and their Arab guests to “share ideas and try to strike deals.” No one seems anxious to discuss that huge migratory wave pouring out of the Middle East.
China is still pushing its New Silk Road initiative hard, with President Xi Jinping specifically mentioning the massive new trade route in a congratulatory letter to the Expo that declared China and the Arab states to be “good friends with mutual trust, as well as good partners in seeking common prosperity.”
State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun spoke of using the Silk Road Fund and Asian Infrastructure Bank to support transportation, communications, and electrical infrastructure projects in Muslim nations.
“The state councilor also urged more cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two civilizations,” Xinhua writes.
People-to-people exchanges, you say? There is a golden opportunity to have China experience the joy of exchanging people and culture by taking in a few hundred thousand of those Syrian refugees. It seems unfair of the Western world to hoard all that cultural exchange for itself.
But no, Xinhua boasts of “exploding” trade between China and the Arab states—with China now being their second largest trade partner—and talks about all the “Arabian students” and visitors making some 340,000 temporary “trips” to China but says nothing about permanent resettlement.
That is especially unfortunate because citizens of the Western world are constantly told that migrant populations are a precious economic resource, and China’s economy is looking a bit ragged at the moment. How can the West, in good conscience, withhold the economic power of mass migration from China in its hour of need?