The United Arab Emirates and Sino-American Competition: Towards a Policy of Non-Alignment? Briefings de l'Ifri, 2 december 2022
In just under five years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has accelerated its rapprochement with Xi Jinping’s China, to the point of becoming the first Gulf country to find itself at the heart of the rivalry between Beijing and Washington. Although benefiting from a large US military presence, the UAE has made its partnership with the Chinese regime a new priority that goes beyond energy and trade.
- Over the past five years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has used its economic and strategic rapprochement with China as a tool to diversify its foreign policy.
- If this Chinese policy of the UAE - which has traditionally been Washington's partner in the region - mirrors the erosion of American influence in the Gulf, the sustainability of Abu Dhabi's strategy should be questioned.
- Despite its aspirations for strategic autonomy, the UAE remains heavily dependent on US security guarantees, meaning that tensions between Washington and Abu Dhabi over its growing partnership with Beijing in sensitive areas (5G network, defence cooperation) could undermine its security foundations.
- While the energy crisis ensuing from the war in Ukraine allows the Gulf oil-producing countries to be in a powerful position vis-à-vis Western consumers, Abu Dhabi now seems determined to maintain its balancing act between Washington and Beijing.