China is trying to expand its power and is forging an alliance of dictatorships. Xi also wants to work more closely with Saudi Arabia. However, Riyadh is more dependent on Beijing than it wants to admit.

China’s ruler Xi Jinping continues to work tirelessly towards his foreign policy goal of forging an alliance of dictatorships whose members work together to break the dominance of the United States and its alliance with democracies around the world.

To this end, he has arrived in Saudi Arabia for a three-day visit. The royal house of Saud, which religiously legitimizes its rule internally and stabilizes it externally through oil exports, has been dependent on security cooperation with Washington for the past few decades.

Especially when it came to keeping the archrival of both countries, the mullah regime of Tehran, in check.

But the House of Saud, especially Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS for short, no longer wants to hear about it. The People’s Republic is already the largest buyer of Saudi oil. In return, Beijing sells weapons technology to the regime that brutally suppresses human rights.

Riyadh is also interested in nuclear technology from China. The United States has cut back arms exports under President Biden, who visited Riyadh in July, largely because of the war the royal family is fighting in Yemen.

Beijing, on the other hand, like most of its allies, has neither scruples nor any respect for human rights and continues to cheerfully equip the Islamic regime, the family that guards the holy places of Islam, with war technology.

Both are now entering into what they call a security cooperation. One element of the numerous deals signed or agreed upon during Xi’s visit is that Chinese telecom giant Huawei will bring the latest 5G technology to Saudi Arabia.

Huawei is expanding the network in numerous other emirates and countries in the region. The United States and its allies, meanwhile, are warning that Huawei, like all other Chinese companies, is firmly under the control of the Communist Party.

And they can use the technology that Huawei sells to monitor communication in the buyer countries. The USA, Great Britain, France and, after a long and usual hesitation and hesitation, also Germany, therefore do not allow Huawei on their market.

From Saudi Arabia’s perspective, it makes sense to emancipate itself from the US with the aim of enticing both countries, China and America, to offer Saudi Arabia more to boot each other out.

Riyadh is therefore trying not to alienate Washington completely, not least because Beijing is maintaining its cordially good contacts with the mullahs in Iran. My friend’s enemy is also my enemy, and Beijing doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.

It pursues its own interests alone. Xi Jinping’s declared strategy is to make the world dependent on China, while the People’s Republic is the only great power that can dominate the other states at will.

Even if the House of Saud may currently feel powerful due to its position between the two rivals, it is more dependent on China than it wants to admit: This year alone, Beijing has around 5.5 billion US dollars over the Vehicle New Silk Road invested in Saudi Arabia.

As the magazine “The Economist” reports, the total volume of Chinese investments in Saudi Arabia and the neighboring oil-producing countries since 2005 is around 100 billion dollars.

The same amount was again invested in projects in Algeria, Egypt and Iraq during this period. Almost all of Beijing’s investments are in the energy sector. In short, they aim to improve the supply of crude oil and oil-derived chemicals to China.

According to official statements, a total of 37 agreements in the area of ​​green hydrogen, security technologies, transport and infrastructure have been signed. Trade between the two countries has thus reached a total volume of 80 billion US dollars.

When President Biden came to Saudi Arabia in July, he could not produce any significant new deals on his return to the United States. Rather, the entire trip fell into a kind of discredit, also because of the different representations of both sides regarding the conversation about human rights.

During his election campaign, Joe Biden announced that he would make Saudi Arabia an outcast. Then came the Ukraine war and Washington had to ask the kingdom for help with energy supplies.

On Friday, the last day of Xi’s trip, hosts MBS will host a Sino-Arab summit for the leader, to which at least 14 other potentates from the region will be invited.

Nothing was communicated about this summit until before Xi’s trip. If there is a group picture, it will appear as gruesome as the one from the opening banquet of the Olympic Games in Beijing in February, to which ruler Xi invited.

No one appeared from the free world, but instead a number of such undemocratic contemporaries, including the Emir of Qatar and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

The solidarity of the despots, autocracies and dictatorships against freedom, human rights and democracy under the leadership of China is getting stronger from event to event.

There are quite a few countries like Saudi Arabia that cannot or do not want to completely abandon an alliance with the free world: India, nominally the largest democracy in the world, is one of them, but so are the Philippines and Malaysia. You are playing with fire. In the end, they will have to bow to Beijing’s will.

Alexander Görlach is Honorary Professor of Ethics at Leuphana University in Lüneburg and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. The PhD linguist and theologian is currently working on a project on “digital cosmopolitanism” at the Internet Institute of the University of Oxford and the Faculty of Philosophy at New York University.

Alexander Görlach was a Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University in the USA and Cambridge University in England. After stints in Taiwan and Hong Kong, he has focused on the rise of China and what it means for East Asian democracies in particular. He has recently published the following titles: “Red Alert: Why China’s Aggressive Foreign Policy in the Western Pacific Is Leading to a Global War” (Hoffmann

From 2009 to 2015, Alexander Görlach was also the publisher and editor-in-chief of the debate magazine The European, which he founded. Today he is a columnist and author for various media such as the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the New York Times. He lives in New York and Berlin.