It would be too simplistic to interpret the Sino-Arab business summit as yet another indication that the Arab world is increasingly pivoting toward China at the expense of the US. Blinken recently succeeded in putting US ties with Riyadh back on a solid footing, despite China and disagreements over Syria and Russia. And while Saudi-Chinese trade volumes may continue to rise, Saudi investment in the US is increasing. China is emerging as a significant regional player, but Washington is rising to the challenge and will remain an influential actor — including in the security domain.
The PRC-Arab business event once again underscores how the region, especially Saudi Arabia, is no longer letting Washington dictate the economic path it should take. The increasing shift away from the US and toward China, in addition to a growing China-Arab trade volume, was recently reflected in the readmission of Syria to the Arab League and the Beijing-brokered rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Also, Blinken's Saudi trip could not hide the West's mounting economic woes, and Saudi Arabia is well advised to seek strategic independence from Washington.
There is a 30% chance that oil exports will account for less than 70% of Saudi Arabian exports in Q1 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.