VIII Ministerial Meeting of  the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum – Pequim 2018

Sino-Arab Cooperation: joint peaceful development or global projection of Chinese interests?

Author: Lara Mendes


The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASFC) was created to strengthen the bi-regional partnerships, aiming to promote the political relations based on mutual respect, as well as the expansion of trade, financial and cultural exchanges. Despite being a dialogue mechanism between South countries, the Forum is part of a Chinese tendency, which has been in force for at least two decades, of widening its influence in the International System. The 8th Meeting of CASFC happened in July 2018 and established the future perspectives of the cooperation, that were expressed in the Beijing Declaration. Regarding China’s search to increasingly improve the regional forums of which is a part, it is possible to observe the benefits obtained, from a perspective of analyzing the mechanisms of this forum as a basis for an international order, in which the Chinese interests prevail.


In addition to the regional mechanisms applied through on the Forum, the extension of investments and cooperation throughout the world can be observed along with the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2014, China proposed to implement the initiative on the Arab countries and, in the name of defining the principles, goals, and priorities to the cooperation, besides the way forward, Declaration of Action on the China-Arab States under the Belt and Road Initiative was implemented. Recurring complaints are made, regarding the lack of reciprocity of China in their economic relations, mostly, in respect to the opening of foreign companies in the country, disregarding the idea of mutual understanding and development.


Furthermore, in the economic intentions of the Forum’s Action Plan (2018-2020), there was the establishment of the China-Arab Countries Interbank Association, with the joint support of China Development Bank and of the relevant Arab Development Banks. The initiative came from China, intending to promote alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and the development views of the Arab banks, ensuring long-term stability and results of the financial collaboration that benefits the parts involved. By that perspective, it is possible to note the Interbank Association as another Chinese strategy to increase its prominence, in the face of developed countries. This is due to the creation of a new multilateral mechanism, with which can shape the cooperation rules, being capable of adding a predictable character e ensure the maintenance of stability in their relations.


Therefore, is possible to analyze the formulation of Chinese’s politics and strategies, in their foreign affairs, bearing in mind a peaceful development and mutual benefits, which are widely defended in the official documents and discourses. The increasing search for multilateral engagement shows the Chinese desire to reform the western international order, that has been prevailing for a long time, in a way to reiterate its presence on the global scenario.  The partnerships with the developing countries, such as with the CASFC members, are fundamental in maintaining and advancing Chinese’s interest in increasing its international relevance. Thus, the country  generates more dependents of its investments and partnership, under the pretext of aiming a global prosperity, starting from friendly cooperation’s (in which the predominance of mutual gains is claimed as a possible means of achieving modernization for all), when, in fact, it joins efforts to, increasingly, position the International Order in its favor.

Published in April 2019