Xi Jinping in Saudi-Arabien

The picture went around the world, that of the dry, rumpled fist salute, with which US President Joseph Biden welcomed Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman during his visit to Saudi Arabia in July. He was an apt symbol: Relations between the two states were strained — especially, since Riyadh refused, to increase its oil production, to enable a tough western oil embargo against Russia. The reception for China's President Xi Jinping on Wednesday was completely different: Polite handshake, some pomp too - when Xi arrived at King Khalid International Airport, seven jets flying in formation sprayed streaks of red and green, the colors of the national flags of both countries, and the sky. In addition to the usual bilateral meetings, the Crown Prince also organized two more summit meetings with – according to reports – a double-digit number of other Arab states for the guest from the People's Republic: The contrast speaks volumes.
Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf States are there, to put their foreign policy on a much broader footing. They have been looking for new cooperation partners for some time, above all, as the United States increasingly focuses on its power struggle against China. Realistically, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have to reckon with that, sooner or later in their power struggle against Tehran, which they have so far carried out alongside Washington, to be on your own. Aroused considerable resentment among them, that Biden announced during the campaign, Muhammad bin Salman, the lord of the bone saws, wanting to make him a »pariah« in international politics. There is probably not much more than a fist salute from the Saudi side at the moment.
That China wants to expand cooperation with the Arab states, this is just what you need. It is a big step for the People's Republic: It expands its influence in a region, which for decades was considered the exclusive hegemonic territory of the USA. Nun, as Washington scales back activities there, acts Beijing, if you like, according to an old maxim of Mao: 'Where the enemy advances, let's retreat. Where the enemy retreats, we advance.
However, US influence on the Arabian Peninsula will not disappear. That would not be in the interests of the states there. Their armed forces are heavily based on US defense products, which is why they continue to depend on cooperation; and otherwise the economic ties are still quite close. In any case, the Arab states will benefit the most, if they are not dependent on a great power, but can choose according to your needs, such as between China and the United States. The fact, that US hegemony in the Persian Gulf is increasingly faltering, is tantamount to a shift in power of historical importance.


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