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The New Silk Roads' Impact on the Persian Gulf Region. Contextualizing China's Economic Ties and
Diplomatic Relations with the Gulf States.

GATER-SMITH, PHILIP,HOWARD,ALEXANDER (2018) The New Silk Roads' Impact on the Persian Gulf Region. Contextualizing China's Economic Ties and
Diplomatic Relations with the Gulf States.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



China’s rise and Middle Eastern insecurity are two dominating themes in international relations today. Yet, their relevance for each other is less discussed. The most important connection is China’s and the Persian Gulf region’s new economic interdependence – a part of Asia’s so-called New Silk Roads. Energy and non-energy trade between the Gulf and China has grown fast and is increasingly accompanied by investment flows in both directions, as well as closer diplomatic relations. The same has happened with regards to the ties between the Gulf and other Asian countries, like India. Nevertheless, it is still the US that underwrites basic regional stability with its military presence. So far, Asian countries, China included, have thus benefited by fee-riding on it. However, as China’s power increases and US appetite for Middle Eastern engagement decreases, it needs to be asked whether China (or anyone else) will one day inherit the American mantle and geo-politically dominate the Gulf.
This PhD thesis seeks to answer that question via the help of three types of contextualization: Firstly, the use of the two most influential, but antagonistic IR theories – neo-liberal institutionalism and neo-realism – tests which is the more accurate for China’s Gulf role. It ultimately argues in favour of a neo-neo synthesis around the concept of regional hegemonic stablity. Secondly, a brief recap of historical analogies regarding previous external powers and their rivalries in the Gulf is provided. These range from early-modern actors, over the British Raj and to the American hegemon. Thirdly, the inter-regional context is provided by briefly outlining the Gulf states' relations with China's Asian competitors, Japan, South Korea, and India. In the second part of the thesis, China's New Silk Roads across Eurasia and the Gulf are analysed via a regional overview and then via two case studies, on China-Saudi Arabia relations and China-United Arab Emirates relations. The conclusion brings all these various threads together in order to undertake a comparison between current American, Chinese (and partly Indian) capabilities, and their future opportunities and risks. This is done via theoretical assessments as well as historical contextualization and discussion of useful analogies.
Why is this research question important? On the one hand, the world economy’s hydrocarbon-dependence continues to rely on the Gulf’s huge reserves. On the other, the region offers a long history of geo-strategic centrality to world affairs and will likely also help determine into which direction global power flows in the 21st century.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"Persian Gulf region", "China", "New Silk Roads", "International Political Economy", "Middle East security", "Gulf history", "Neo-liberal institutionalism", "neo-realism", "regional hegemonic stability"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Jun 2018 09:43

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