Ten days after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s spectacular visit to Russia, which sealed the new strategic alliance between the two countries to establish a “new world order”, French President Emmanuel Macron flew to Beijing in a final attempt to neutralize China in the Ukrainian war.
France, which has forged solid relations with China since the Gaullist period, could appear to be the only Western power capable of influencing the policy of Chinese rapprochement with Russia.
After the consummate break between Beijing and Washington, now engaged in a serious spiral, the points of friction which divide China and the Western bloc have become numerous and they are proving difficult to iron out.
The burning issues that are on the table can be summed up in three cardinal issues: the security architecture in Europe, the struggle for influence in the Indo-Pacific space and the economic-strategic rivalries within the greater Middle East.
The first issue is directly linked to the ongoing war in Ukraine. China, while maintaining a minimal reserve position, has resolutely aligned itself with the Russian position, sharing Moscow’s concern for NATO enlargement in the heart of Eurasia, the common living space between China and Russia.
Ukraine, key to the Eurasian zone, today constitutes the decisive battlefield for the control of this space which will undoubtedly determine the nature of the new world order.
By forging an “unbreakable strategic partnership” with Russia, China is in its logic of containing Western thrusts in the Eurasian area. Beijing could even sacrifice its economic and commercial interests with Western Europe to maintain this strategic position.
China, which launched its ambitious One Road, One Belt (“New Silk Road”) project in 2013, recently unveiled its offensive strategy for taking control of the South China Sea.
– Seyid Ould Abah
The second issue defines the immediate framework for confrontation between China and the United States, the rival powers in the Indo-Pacific space. Although the contours of this vast area are rarely identified with precision, it is for the two great world powers to control the maritime routes of Central Asia and East Asia as well as the most important international markets. attractive. This area includes large countries such as India, Japan and the two Koreas. It extends to the eastern shores of Africa and it appears today as the object of two conflicting strategic approaches.
China, which launched its ambitious One Road, One Belt (“New Silk Road”) project in 2013, recently unveiled its offensive strategy to control the South China Sea, preventing any attempt to interfere in this vital space. of primary importance. The latest friction with the United States over Taiwan is the harbinger of a likely confrontation between the two countries.
On the other hand, the United States took the initiative to create in 2017 the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which brings together Japan, India and Australia, in addition to the tripartite cooperation agreement, designated by the English acronym “Aukus”, which encompasses America, the United Kingdom and Australia. Both initiatives are clearly aimed at countering Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific space.
France, which has been excluded from the Aukus, has repeatedly asserted its ambition to integrate this area which is already emerging as the hub of the world economy.
The third issue concerns the greater Middle East, extended to South Asia, which has been the preserve of the United States and which has become a terrain of rivalry with China.
The latest successful mediation initiative between Saudi Arabia and Iran has enshrined China’s key role in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East. This initiative is the culmination of a strategy of continuous rapprochement with the main countries of the region which have taken the sovereign decision to diversify their geopolitical partnership on an international scale. China is the first customer of the Middle Eastern oil countries; it places among its priorities the access to the local relays essential to its policy of economic and commercial expansion (on the Arabian Sea and the south-west of the Indian Ocean).
These strategic issues were part of the talks between the French and Chinese presidents and they will continue to occupy the forefront of the global geopolitical debate.
Source: Arab News