Dr. Fulton is an assistant professor of pollical science at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates and a senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council. He is the author of China's Relations with the Gulf Monarchies (Routledge, 2019).
China's deepening ties to Iran, evident in the comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP) signed in 2021 after five years of stalled progress, is not an indication of a revisionist Chinese approach to the Gulf region. In fact, its CSPs with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, already activated and implemented, are at far more mature levels, commensurate with China's deep levels of economic and political engagement with the Arab side of the Gulf. This is consistent with a strategic hedging approach that Beijing has used to build a sustainable presence without disrupting a competitive and fragile regional order. With far larger and more diverse interests in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, China's partnership with Iran creates leverage due to the asymmetry inherent in the China-Iran relationship.
Middle East Policy is fully accessible through the Wiley Online Library
Click below to subscribe to the online or print edition of Middle East Policy and gain access to all journal content.