A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, November 19, 2010

China and the UAE

In a way this isn't news at all, since anyone who's been paying attention knows that China has been focusing closely on building up its presence in the Gulf. Still, reinforcing what we already know, here's a piece in this morning's The National of Abu Dhabi about China's concentrated interest in the UAE.

Admittedly, though, it's way down the web page from the lead, the Jonas Brothers' concert in Abu Dhabi. (And yes, with a 10-year-old daughter, I do know who they are.)

Somehow I think China's role in Abu Dhabi will last longer than the Jonas Brothers.


David Mack said...

Not surprisingly, Chinese foreign policy was taking the long view in the UAE as early as 1989, toward the end of my time there. Beijing sent an ambassador who spoke fluent Arabic and became one of my most interesting conversational companions in the Abu Dhabi diplomatic corps, especially after he invited me for a banquet at the Chinese Embassy to celebrate the breakthroughs in US-Chinese relations. Ambassador Hu (I could be wrong on the name) had learned fluent Arabic partly as a result of the cultural revolution. He was one of the young diplomats being groomed by Foreign Minister Chou en Lai. Chou protected him from re-education in some agricultural commune by keeping him at the Chinese Embassy in Cairo for five years. He had little to do there other than study Arabic, and he put it to good use in Abu Dhabi. His wife, who had been a trainee at the Chinese government language institute in Beijing, was also fluent in Arabic, which for a while at least was the common language of US-Chinese detente in Abu Dhabi.

Michael Collins Dunn said...


If their Ambassador in 1989 spoke fluent Arabic, how many of the Chinese Embassy staff do so today? How many of the US Embassy staff?

I think we can both guess the answer. Probably comparable to the proportions of Chinese studying English versus the proportions of Americans studying Chinese.