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Seek Knowledge Even If It Takes You to China (Via Washington)Saudi Arabia and China in the Twenty-First Century

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For much of the last twenty years, China’s ties with Saudi Arabia have been understood in commercial terms, with most scholars arguing that the relationship has little cultural or historical depth. Drawing on multiple trips to China between 2011 and 2015 along with a ten-month period living continuously in Saudi Arabia in 2013 and 2014, this paper argues that there are factors other than economics that should be considered: namely, historical ties dating back to the seventh century, Saudi cultural and geo-strategic linkages to the United States, and the new economic and political geography of Eurasia. While cultural and strategic factors have limited the growth of Saudi-Sino ties since the start of the Arab Spring, they are likely to be the factors that allow for the two sides to realize the potential of their bilateral relationship in the future—even while retaining their close current alliances with other great powers.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Middle Tennessee State University, USA,


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