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Arab states’ simple equation to solve Chinese investment dilemma

Relations between China and the Arab world are as simple as 1+2+3.

That’s the formulation conceived by Beijing two years ago in an official policy paper, with each number representing a different aspect of the relationship. The number 1 refers to the energy relationship, seen as a “core” aspect, while the number 2 refers to the two “wings” of infrastructure investment and the facilitation of trade, and the number 3 is a tripartite wish-list of “breakthroughs” of cooperation in the fields of clean energy, nuclear energy and satellite technology.

Ever since Beijing announced the 1+2+3 strategy, the relationship between China and several Arab states has witnessed an acceleration in both the breadth and depth of ties. With multibillion-dollar investments on track in Egypt and Oman, the award of a key oil concession to a Chinese firm in the UAE, potentially massive joint Chinese-Saudi investments in refineries and chemicals plants, growing purchases of Middle East oil by China, and a high-profile visit to Abu Dhabi recently by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the 1+2+3 strategy is in full swing.

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