Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sino-Saudi alignment creates strategic opportunity for Turkey - Micha’el Tanchum


Beyond the $65 billion of economic deals signed between Riyadh and Beijing, last week’s visit by King Salman of Saudi Arabia to China confirmed the nascent strategic partnership developing between China and Saudi Arabia, as Beijing seeks to secure the commercial sea routes along China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR). 
While Turkey currently plays a marginal role in China’s MSR, the advance in the Sino-Saudi strategic cooperation presents an opportunity for Ankara to open maritime security cooperation with Beijing.
Although the first day of the Saudi monarch’s visit on March 16, 2017 grabbed international headlines with the signing of a $65 billion Sino-Saudi trade and investment package, the 20 plus agreements on oil investment and energy largely follow the traditional transactional pattern of the Sino-Saudi cooperation. In the security realm, the king’s visit was truly noteworthy for consolidating the strategic partnership established between China and Saudi during President Xi Jinping’s January 2016 visit to Riyadh. Three days prior to King Salman’s arrival in Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry declared, “We stand ready to take King Salman’s visit as an opportunity to take China-Saudi Arabia comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level.” King Salman reciprocated with his declaration in Beijing that “Saudi Arabia is willing to work hard with China to promote global and regional peace, security, and prosperity.”