The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has always been complex and challenging, and recent developments have only added to the tension. One such issue is the growing ties between Saudi Arabia and China, which has raised concerns in Washington. The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs believes that the US must take measures to punish Saudi Arabia for its dealings with China, and this article explores why and how.
Saudi Arabia and China have been gradually increasing their economic ties over the past few years. The Chinese market is crucial for Saudi Arabia, given that it is the largest importer of Saudi oil, accounting for around 16% of its oil exports. Furthermore, China is one of the biggest investors in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the energy sector.
The Kingdom’s decision to strengthen its economic ties with China is rooted in the belief that it can help it diversify its economy away from oil. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) also presents significant opportunities for Saudi Arabia. The BRI is a massive infrastructure project designed to boost trade and economic growth across Asia, Europe, and Africa. Saudi Arabia is eager to tap into this initiative to gain access to new markets and technologies.
However, the US sees China as a strategic rival, and its growing influence in the Middle East is a cause for concern. The US believes that China’s increasing presence in the region could destabilize the delicate balance of power and undermine US interests.
Why the US Should Punish KSA
The US must take measures to punish Saudi Arabia for its dealings with China because it undermines US interests in several ways. First, it threatens US national security by enabling China to gain greater access to the Middle East. The US has long been the dominant military power in the region, and China’s growing presence could challenge that dominance. Moreover, China’s involvement in the region could embolden Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main rival in the region, and this could threaten US interests.
Second, Saudi Arabia’s alignment with China could undermine US efforts to contain China’s global influence. The US is engaged in a long-term strategic competition with China, and it has been working to build a coalition of countries to counter China’s rising power. If Saudi Arabia were to align with China, it would weaken the US-led coalition and make it harder to contain China’s influence.
Third, Saudi Arabia’s relationship with China could harm US economic interests. China is the largest trading partner of the US, and its growing influence in the Middle East could pose a threat to US economic interests in the region. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s pivot towards China could make it harder for the US to exert pressure on China on issues such as trade and human rights.
How to Punish KSA
The US must take measures to punish Saudi Arabia for its dealings with China. However, any punitive action must be carefully calibrated to avoid causing unintended consequences.
One option is to use sanctions to target individuals and entities that are involved in facilitating Saudi Arabia’s relationship with China. The US could use the Global Magnitsky Act to target those who engage in human rights abuses or corruption. The US could also impose economic sanctions on entities that facilitate trade between Saudi Arabia and China.
Another option is to reduce or suspend military aid and support to Saudi Arabia. The US provides military aid and support to Saudi Arabia to maintain regional stability and counter threats such as terrorism and Iranian aggression. However, the US could use this leverage to pressure Saudi Arabia to reduce its ties with China.
The US could also engage in diplomatic efforts to isolate Saudi Arabia and reduce its influence in the region. This could involve working with allies in the region to limit Saudi Arabia’s role in regional affairs and encourage it to pursue a more independent foreign policy.
The US must take measures to punish Saudi Arabia for its growing ties with China to protect its national security, economic interests, and global influence. However, any punitive action must be carefully calibrated to avoid causing unintended consequences. The US should consider using targeted sanctions, reducing military support, and engaging in diplomatic efforts to isolate Saudi Arabia and reduce its influence in the region. Ultimately, the US must find a way to balance its strategic interests with Saudi Arabia and its concerns about China’s growing influence in the Middle East.