Sino-Saudi Relations: Geopolitics, Energy, Taiwan, and Chinese Muslims
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AbstractCradle of Islam and home to two holy mosques, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bears political significance to China and spiritual importance to its Muslim population. Yet the Kingdom was one of a few major countries that chose to recognize Taipei until the twilight of the Cold War. Being the last Arab state to recognize the People’s Republic of China, Saudi Arabia represents a rare diplomatic case worthy of study. The Saudi’s strong and stable ties first with Taiwan—even decades after the latter was thrown out of the United Nations—and warming relationship with Beijing now have all to do with oil, but oil is by no means the only factor. The links tying Taiwan to the Saudi Kingdom were complex, geopolitics and anti-communist ideology among them. While the professed anticommunism bound Taiwan with Riyadh in the past, Saudi Arabia holding hands with the second largest economy no doubt shapes a new path for the world not limited in the energy sector. Both G20 members, Sino-Saudi bilateral political-military cooperation is also on the rise. The Saudi 2030 Vision and China’s One Belt One Road initiative may further cement the bond. Yet the obvious improvement of the Sino-Iranian relationship and Chinese support of the Syrian regime could negatively affect the Sino-Saudi rapport. This paper investigates the intricate relationships between the world’s largest oil exporter and the world’s most populous state, revealing the multi-level considerations of bilateral diplomacy. It also looks into the impact this relationship has on their allies and rivals.