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China’s “Belt and Road” Economic Diplomacy in the Persian Gulf: Strategic Hedging amidst Saudi– Iranian Regional Rivalry

Authors: Jeremy Garlick, Radka Havlova

Organization/Publisher: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs

Affiliation: University of Economics, Prague/CEVRO Institute, Prague

Date/Place: January 30, 2020, Humburg, Germany

Type of Literature: Journal Article

Number of Pages: 24


Keywords: Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Strategic Hedging, Economic Diplomacy, the Persian Gulf


President Xi Jinping initiated the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) in 2013 which is planned to be completed in 2049. The BRI project is based on economic integration of neighboring regions with mainland China. This paper analyzes the economic expansion of China in the Middle East through BRI. China is heavily invested in the Persian Gulf in terms of industrial infrastructure and development of ports. 43% of crude oil for the Chinese industrial economy comes from the Persian Gulf. China must deal with both regional power circles, i.e. Saudi Arabia and Iran, in pursuing its economic diplomacy. While expanding its influence in the Middle East, China also has to consider the reservations of the US because it is a regional hegemon. The article utilizes the term “strategic hedging,” defined as the strategy of a State to balance its relations with two conflicting States without annoying anyone of these respective States. The current crisis in the Middle East has pushed China to adopt the strategy of “strategic hedging” in the region by balancing both Riyadh and Tehran to secure its national security goals. The article concludes that stability of the Persian Gulf region is essential for Chinese economic might, therefore it must adopt a balancing diplomacy while dealing with conflicting States. 

By: Muhammad Taimoor Bin Tanveer, CIGA Research Associate



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