Sunday, June 5, 2016

China Eyes Qatar in its Quest to Build a New Silk Road


Giorgio Cafiero CEO and co-founder of Gulf State Analytics, a Washington, DC-based geopolitical risk consultancy
Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat Ph.D researcher and freelance journalist

Last month at the China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Doha, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi postulated that Qatar should take part in the realization of China’s Silk Road Initiatives. Considering Qatar as a key partner to promote the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project, which Chinese President Xi Jinping initiated in 2014, Yi said that the initiative shares common cooperative opportunities with the Qatar National Vision 2030, a future development roadmap launched by Doha in 2008.
To this end, China hopes to strengthen bilateral relations with Qatar in economic, political and cultural spheres. This, however, is not the first time China took a step in courting Doha to help in implementing its OBOR projects. Last year, China decided to establish a Renminbi Clearing Centre in Doha, which was the first financial institution in the Middle East to offer access to Chinese currency and foreign exchange markets. This move is crucial as one of the most important steps taken by China to abet the Silk Road Initiatives is the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which among its goals is to expand the use of Chinese currency.
It should come as no surprise that China is making its way to Qatar, particularly with respect to the establishment of the Silk Road Initiatives. Despite China leading the initiatives, it is impossible for Beijing to do everything alone; international participation and contributions are needed. Therefore, it is logical for China to turn to Qatar for a significant role.