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Even unto China

Dec 12,2019 - Last updated at Dec 12,2019

The first time I arrived in China was in 1980 in order to attend the burgeoning Guangzhou fair in southern China. The experience was not an easy one, as I had to deal with people who hardly spoke any language that was not Mandarin, and with layers and layers of beurocratic grey suits.

I have just returned from my tenth visit there and what a new China it has become! The infrastructure is comprehensive and functions very well; malls are everywhere. Touristic services have improved, the air is cleaner and the streets are less crowded.

I felt like riding a time machine cruising its way into the future. I attended this time a conference on the security in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and the relation with PRC (Peoples’ Republic of China). Both of the Chinese government and the media were keen to gauge the various reflections and statements exhibited and expressed by the Arab delegates.

Naturally, China’s main apprehension stems from the multivariate wars that are waged against it by the Americans. The Chinese still expound the two-decade old argument that the per capita income of the Chinese and not their cumulative annual GDP which asserts that they are still a developing country. Sure, they have made huge strides toward hi-tech, strong army, space and socioeconomic progress, but with a meager $10,000 per capita, they fall short of being a superpower or a countervailing power on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Yet, in his speech to the last Communist Party Conference, President Xi Jinping clearly enunciated his directive to develop a framework for security in the MENA region. Such a framework should be based on the tenets of justice, consistency (no double standards), comprehensiveness and sustainable growth.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yi Wang focused when he met with the Arab delegates on the need to resolve the Palestinian issue in accordance with Security Council Resolution  #242 of 1967 leading to two states. He also spoke of the need to combat terrorism and achieving security, whose absence denies the MENA the right to develop and prosper. He expressed China’s willingness to work positively with the Arab world and to help in any way it can.

I have deduced from my attendance of a meeting with the official of the China Institute of International Studies that China has already decided to be a more proactive player in the MENA Region. Not only because of oil, but because Chain’s relative absence is inviting  greater pressure to be applied against it.

The recent developments in Hong Kong and the passage by the US Congress of a bill censuring China is a flagrant example. The closure of the MENA sea routes in the face of Chinese people and goods can pose a serious threat to the world’s peace and security.

I came back to Jordan “heavy hearted”. The failure of reaching any deal with China, the one-sided approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the weakness of Arabs are making China’s prospects more oblique. 

Yet, if Arabs and China streamlined their cooperation, they stand to improve their respective bargaining powers immensely.

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