US planners are expressing concerns over China’s expanding defense deals in West Asia, saying they could “undermine the US military’s ability to integrate with its partners in the region,” according to a report by Business Insider.
“Growing interest in what Beijing is selling reflects a longer-term desire by [West Asian] countries to diversify their suppliers and their increasing concern about the US’s commitment to the region,” people familiar with the matter told the New York-based outlet.
Over the past 10 years, Chinese arms sales in West Asia have jumped by 80 percent, as Beijing has shown a willingness to deliver weapons faster and with fewer roadblocks than Washington.
As a result of this, one of the US closest allies in the region, the UAE, plans to hold its first-ever military drill with China this month. The upcoming aerial exercise, dubbed “Falcon Shield 2023,” will take place in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China.
Last year, China and Saudi Arabia also agreed to co-manufacture drones locally in the kingdom, while the UAE bought advanced trainer jets from China.
Moreover, earlier this year, Abu Dhabi announced a deal with Beijing which will see the two countries establish a facility powered by sustainable energy to produce drones and aircraft.
These announcements came just a few months after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) revealed plans to “jointly promote global security initiatives, continue to deepen practical exchanges and cooperation,” as well as “make new contributions to maintaining world peace and development.”
“As strategic partners, China, and Arab states should … foster a closer China-Arab community with a shared future, to deliver greater benefits to their peoples and advance the cause of human progress,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said last year at the closing of the first Sino-Arab summit held in Saudi Arabia.
In March, the commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), General Michael Kurilla, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there had been “a significant increase” in Chinese military sales in the region, claiming that Chinese officials “open up their entire catalog … give them express shipping. They give them no end-user agreement. And they give them financing.”
“If there is Chinese equipment there, we cannot integrate it with US equipment,” Kurilla said, adding that the US is “in a race to integrate with our partners before China can fully penetrate the region.”
In recent months China has also positioned itself as a potent diplomatic player in the region, securing agreements that once seemed impossible under US hegemony, such as the normalization deals between Saudi Arabia and both Iran and Syria.
Source : The Cradle