World View: China Signs Nuclear Deals with Saudi Arabia and Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) take part in a welcoming ceremony on January 23, 2016 in the capital Tehran.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

This morning’s key headlines from

  • China signs nuclear deals with Saudi Arabia and Iran
  • China signals support for Saudis in Yemen, and for Palestinian state

China signs nuclear deals with Saudi Arabia and Iran

Xi Jinping and Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud
Xi Jinping and Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud

China’s president Xi Jinping has completed a visit to Saudi Arabia, during which he and Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud signed several agreements, mainly in the fields of energy, culture and industrial cooperation:

  • China will invest $2.43 billion to build a nuclear manufacturing equipment industrial cluster. The first nuclear reactor is scheduled to be online in 2022, and 15 more by 2032. According to a Chinese official: “Nuclear power plants with a design life of more than 40 years cannot only provide energy security but also have the potential to resolve growing emissions concerns in the Middle East.”
  • A joint venture between Saudi’s Aramco and China’s Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) will undergo a $1-1.5 billion expansion.
  • Plans are being drafted for a free trade agreement between China and the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council of Arab states, to “enable the Kingdom to become a hub for China to access its Middle East and Africa markets.”

According to a Chinese spokesman,

A total of 14 agreements including memorandums of understanding were also signed between the Kingdom and China at the palace. […]

The signing of the agreements was witnessed by King Salman and Xi together in a very candid and cordial atmosphere.

Major pacts inked by the two sides also include an energy cooperation agreement and an accord to work together on the Silk Road Economic Belt Initiative to achieve goals of development within the framework of the initiative. […]

We hope and trust that Saudi Arabia, located at the west crossroads of the Belt and Road, will become an important participant of, contributor to and beneficiary of this initiative.

As part of his Mideast trip, Xi Jinping will also visit Iran, where he is expected to finalize a deal for two Chinese-built nuclear power plants.

In a visit to Egypt, Xi agreed to a rail project in Egypt worth $1.1 billion, and construction projects worth $2.7 billion.

As part of the “New Silk Road,” Russia is proposing a 2,000 mile railway link between China and Iran. Bloomberg and Arab News and China Daily and Arab News and Tehran Times

China signals support for Saudis in Yemen, and for Palestinian state

China has always had a policy of “non-interference” in other countries, largely for fear of being criticized for its own brutal treatment of Tibetans and Uighurs, as well as for its own brutal treatment of dissidents in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

However, that policy has apparently been completely abandoned in the visit by China’s president Xi Jinping to the Mideast.

In a joint statement, Saudi Arabia said that “Both sides stressed support for the legitimate regime of Yemen.”

The war in Yemen is viewed as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran is supporting the Shia Houthis, who overthrew the elected government a year ago. Saudi Arabia is supporting the internationally elected government that was overthrown by the Houthis, and which is living in exile in Saudi Arabia.

The joint statement seems to make it clear that China is siding with Saudi Arabia, and against Iran. When a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman was asked whether China was siding with Saudi Arabia, he said, “(We) hope clashes in Yemen can come to an end as soon as possible and there can be reconciliation so the country can return to stability.”

Xi Jinping also gave a speech to the Arab League in Cairo, and said:

China firmly supports the Middle East peace process and supports the establishment of a State of Palestine enjoying full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders. We understand the legitimate aspirations of Palestine to integrate into the international community as a state.

Perhaps the pro-independence activists in Taiwan can use this quote in their protests against China.

As I have been writing for almost ten years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Russia, India and Iran will be allies of the United States, versus our enemies, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. Reuters and Quartz

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, Xi Jinping, New Silk Road, Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Egypt, Iran, Yemen, Houthis, Palestine, Taiwan
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