خاص موقع الصين بعيون عربية:
قدّم العميد المتقاعد الياس فرحات أواخر العام الماضي محاضرة في العاصمة الصينية بكين حول العلاقات العربية الصينية تتضمن العديد من الأفكار الهامة والقراءات التي ينبغي الوقوف عندها والتعلم منها عند البحث في كيفية تطور هذه العلاقات.
الدراسة باللغة الإنكليزية وهي مؤلفة من أكثر من 8000 كلمة، وقد تفضل الجنرال فرحات بتقديم نسخة منها إلى موقع الصين بعيون عربية، ونحن ننشرها باللغة الأصلية.
فيما يلي استعراض لبعض الأفكار الواردة في الدراسة وتلخيص لفقراتها، مع نشر الفقرة الختامية وهي بعنوان: كيف نطوّر العلاقات الصينية العربية.
تبدأ الدراسة بمقدمة تتحدث عن تاريخ العلاقات العربية الصينية، ابتداء من الحديث المنسوب للرسول محمد: اطلبوا العلم في الصين، مروراً بالغزوات المغولية للمنطقة العربية والتي وُضعت في خانة الشرق الأقصى، بما فيه الصين، بالرغم من أن الصينيين والعرب عانوا معاً من الغزوات المغولية.
يقول الكاتب إنه لم يسمع أحد إلا نادراً عن كتب صينية تُرجمت إلى العربية بالرغم من حركة الترجمة والتعريب المكثّفة في العصر العباسي.
ويضيف أن العلاقات العربية الصينية الحديثة انطلقت من بوابة الأحزاب الشيوعية وعانت من أثر الانفصال الذي حصل بين الاتحاد السوفياتي والصين.
وبعد الاعتراف الدولي بالصين الشعبية بدأت العلاقات بالنمو، وأخذت الدول العربية تقيم علاقات دبلوماسية مع بكين.
ويخلص إلى أن العلاقات التجارية مع الصين أصبحت مهمة جداً بالنسبة للدول العربية، ولكن العلاقات الثقافية ما تزال تحتاج لجهود كبيرة لرفعها لمستوى العلاقات العربية الغربية والعلاقات العربية الروسية.
جورج حاتم (ما هايدي):
وتتضمن الدراسة فقرة عن دور الطبيب اللبناني الأميركي جورج حاتم في تعزيز العلاقات العربية الصينية، مع الإشارة إلى أن العالم العربي لم يعطِ أهمية كبيرة لهذا الرجل ودوره، حيث أن القليل من العرب والمسلمين يعرفون عنه، وهذا يظهر إلى أي حد هو ضعيف تأثر الثقفة الصينية في البلدان العربية.
كيف يرى العرب الصين؟
يعتبر العرب الصين دولة صناعية تعرض منتجاتها بأسعار رخيصة تنافس المنتجات الأميركية والأوروبية. وهم يرون أن المنتجات الصينية متوفرة بأصناف مختلفة. وعلى كل حال هم لا يثقون بنوعية المنتجات الصينية ويعتبرون أنها تأتي بنوعية أقل من نوعية المنتجات الغربية.
أما السياسيون العرب فيرون الصين كبلد آسيوي لعب دوراً مؤثراً في دعم الثورة الفلسطينية وحركات التحرر الأخرى حول العالم.
عرب آخرون رأوا في الصين دولة شيوعية تحمل إيديولوجية معادية تتناقض مع الإسلام، ولذلك اتخذوا موقفاً معادياً تجاهها.
واستمر هذا الأمر حتى تغير الوضع تماماً على المستوى الدولي، وانفتحت الصين على الدول الغربية.
هذه الصورة تغيرت ولم يعد أحد يتحدث عن الخطر الشيوعي وفتحت الخطوط التجارية بين الصين والدول العربية ومن بينها دول الخليج.
ويقول الكاتب إن العلاقات الثقافية لم تزدهر بالشكل الكافي، ويضيف: العرب لا يعرفون كثيراً عن الثقافة والتراث الصيني وهم يظنون أن المنتجات الصينية مصنوعة وفقاً للنموذج الغربي دون أي مميزات تقليدية صينية.
كما أن السياحة الصينية باتجاه الدول العربية محدودة جداً، والسياح العرب في الصين يستمتعون برؤية سور الصين والمدينة المحرمة، فيما لا يعرفون الشيء الكثير عن الثقافة والتراث في الصين.
هذا الأمر يظهر حاجة الطرفين إلى التعارف الثقافي من أجل تطوير أي علاقات أخرى في أي مجال.
وعلى مستوى اللغة لا يوجد صينيون كثيرون يتكلمون اللغة العربية، سوى الباحثين والدبلوماسيين، والبعض الآخر في قطاع الأعمال. كما أن العرب بشكل عام ليسوا على عجلة لتعلم اللغة الصينية.
أما التفاعلات الثقافية الأكثر أهمية فهي الترجمة. وما زالت حركة الترجمة بين اللغتين غير كافية لكي يتعرف العرب والصينيون على ثقافة الطرف الآخر.
وعلى صعيد التعاون العسكري بين الطرفين فهو ما زال في حدود تبادل الخبرات والتعرف على الثقافة والتقاليد بين الطرفين. هناك العديد من العسكريين الذين تلقوا التدريب في معاهد صينية، والصين دربت مقاتلين من حركة التحرير الوطني الفلسطينية.
لا نجد “مدناً صينية” في الدول العربية كما هو الحال في المدن الأميركية والأوروبية لأن الزوار الصينيين للدول العربية هم تجار وعمال وسياح وليسوا مهاجرين أو سكاناً. والطعام الصيني معروف لقلّة من العرب، وهو موجود في مطاعم صينية في العواصم العربية.
بالخلاصة، ما زال الصينيون شعباً غريباً من دولة غير مألوفة بالنسبة للعرب، ونحتاج لوقت أطول وتعارف ثقافي أعمق لردم هذه الهوّة.
ويرى الكاتب في الدين عقبة كبرى في العلاقات بين الطرفين. وبعكس الأديان السماوية التي تربط بين العرب المسلمين والغرب، فالعرب لا يعرفون شيئاً عن الديانة في الصين.
ويعتبر أن الإضاءة على موضوع الدين مهمة لأننا نشهد موجة من الإسلاميين المتطرفين الذين يعتبرون غير المسلمين كفاراً، كما بعض الفئات الإسلامية. وأفراد من الجماعة المسلمة في الصين انتموا إلى جماعات إرهابية كالقاعدة وداعش، ويلعبون دوراً في العمليات الإرهابية في سوريا والعراق.
هذا الخلاف الديني يحثنا على أن نأخذ في الاعتبار التداعيات على الوضع في المناطق الصينية التي يقيم فيها المسلمون، وأعمال العنف والإرهاب التي يمكن أن ترتكب من قبل الإرهابيين في الصين.
ماذا تريد الصين من العرب؟
يرى الكاتب أن الدول الاستعمارية عملت على نهب دول العالم الثالث، ولم تكن العلاقات بين هذين الطرفين قائمة على المنفعة المتبادلة، فهل تستطيع الصين تغيير قواعد اللعبة والبحث فعلاً عن المنفعة المتبادلة؟
وبعد أن يقول إن هذا الأمر بات مثبتاً بالوقائع يتحدث الكاتب عن العلاقات الصينية مع السعودية وعن الفيتوات الصينية حول سوريا في مجلس الأمن بما يتوافق مع الاستراتيجيا الصينية.
هل الصين قوة استعمارية؟
ببساطة، الصين ليست قوة استعمارية، هي لم تحتل أي بلد، ولا تفرض سياساتها على الدول الأخرى. الصين لم تأخذ ثروة أي بلد ولكن ذهبت للشراكة والمنفعة المتبادلة.
من هنا فوجهات النظر العربية تجاه الصين تختلف عن تلك التي تكون باتجاه الدول الغربية التي احتلت دولاً عربية.
تاريخ الاحتلال لا يزال حياً في أذهان العرب. والصين في القرن التاسع عشر عانت من حروب الأفيون البريطانية والغزوات، واحتُلت وفقا لاتفاق 1860. لذا كل من العرب والصينيين عانيا من الاحتلال الغربي.
يتحدث الكاتب عن العلاقات العربية الصينية خلال الحرب الباردة حين حالفت دول عربية الغرب واعتبرت الصين دولة شيوعية تمثل خطراً عليها، فيما اعتبرت الدول القريبة من الاتحاد السوفياتي الصين دولة صديقة وحليفة.
وبعد الحرب الباردة غيّر العرب موقفهم من الصين وانطلقوا نحو علاقات صداقة معها.
والآن، الصين بنظر العرب هي قوة عظمى ودولة صناعية كبرى والأهم من كل شيء أنها دولة لا أطماع جغرافية لها.
لا توجد مخاوف عربية أو قلق من أي علاقة مع الصين، كما أن العرب يرون أن بكين لا تشكل أي تهديد للمصالح والثقافة العربية. العرب يعتبرون أن الصين هي بلد ذو سياسة براغماتية يحافظ على مصالح جميع الأطراف المعنية ويتعامل بصدق.
هو أمر نادر الحدوث في العالم العربي أن نسمع أي تصريح معادٍ للصين، لا من موظفي الحكومة ولا من السياسيين أو وسائل الإعلام. وبشكل عام العرب لا ينتقدون الصين كما يفعلون في بعض الاحيان مع القوى العظمى والدول الأخرى.
أما بالنسبة للصراع العربي الإسرائيلي والقضية الفلسطينية، يشعر العرب أن الصين كانت داعماً قوياً للشعب الفلسطيني ولنضاله من أجل إقامة دولته المستقلة.
يتحدث الكاتب عن الإرهاب والفكر الواقف خلفه، كما عن الحرب على الإرهاب والتعاون الدولي المطلوب تجاهه.
ويقول إن هذا الموضوع يجب أن يدفع لمزيد من التنسيق بين الصين والدول العربية من أجل تجنب أي هجمات إرهابية. وهذا يعني أنه ينبغي أن يكون هناك تنسيق بين الحكومات والأجهزة الأمنية. تبادل المعلومات والبيانات عن الإرهابيين ينبغي أن يتحقق بصدق وجدية. وحقيقة أن هناك إرهابيين جاءوا من سينكيانغ في الصين وانضموا إلى القاعدة وداعش يجعل الوضع خطيراً. ينبغي أن تُبذل الجهود من أجل إنقاذ الأبرياء في كل من الصين والدول العربية وجميع أنحاء العالم.
واقع الأنظمة العربية
يتناول الكاتب أوضاع الدول العربية بإسهاب ويشرح تركيبتها العرقية والدينية والمذهبية، ويتحدث عن جامعة الدول العربية.
وعلى الرغم من الموقع الجغرافي الاستراتيجي للدول العربية والسيطرة على الممرات المائية الاستراتيجية مثل قناة السويس ومضيق باب المندب ومضيق هرمز، والثروة االنفطية، مما جعل الدول العربية قوية في سوق الطاقة العالمية، إلا أن هذه الدول لم تحقق أي تقدم لحل القضية الفلسطينية ووضع حد لمعاناة الشعب الفلسطيني.
الصين تدرك الوضع. أعربت ورقة السياسات العربية الأخيرة عن الموقف الصيني من هذا الصراع: “الصين تؤيد عملية السلام في الشرق الأوسط وإقامة دولة فلسطين المستقلة كاملة السيادة، على أساس حدود ما قبل عام 1967، مع القدس الشرقية عاصمة لها. الصين تدعم جهود جامعة الدول العربية والدول الأعضاء فيها لتحقيق هذه الغاية”.
ويتحدث الكاتب بإسهاب عن أوضاع الدول العربية معدداً الحروب الداخلية والخارجية التي انخرطت فيها دول عربية وعن الأوضاع الداخلية في معظم الدول العربية ويصل إلى خلاصة في هذا الإطار مفادها أن أي اتفاق سياسي أو اقتصادي مع الدول العربية أو الشركات العربية يجب أن يسبقها دراسة كاملة للبلد من حيث:
– التاريخ القديم والحديث للبلاد
– الوضع الأمني واحتمالات حصول اضطرابات تهز الاستقرار.
– العلاقات الخارجية، وخاصة مع دول الجوار.
– المصداقية في الالتزام بالقانون الدولي
– سلطة صنع القرار.
– مصداقية السلطة القضائية
ـ حقوق الإنسان وحرية التعبير والدين والانتقال.
كان الربيع العربي سلسلة من الاحتجاجات المناهضة للحكومة، الانتفاضات والثورات المسلحة التي انتشرت في جميع أنحاء الدول العربية في شمال أفريقيا والشرق الأوسط في أوائل عام 2011، ولا تزال مستمرة.
ويشرح الكاتب بالتفاصيل انطلاقة الربيع العربي والثورات التي حصلت في البلدان العربية ونتائجها وصولاً إلى الأزمة في سوريا وانعكاساتها الدولية.
كذلك تحدث الكاتب عن الحرب اليمنية وانعكاساتها على المنطقة والعالم.
يمكن اعتبار النتيجة النهائية للربيع العربي هي الفشل فقط إذا توقعنا أن عقوداً من الأنظمة الاستبدادية يمكن عكسها بسهولة واستبدالها بأنظمة ديمقراطية مستقرة في جميع أنحاء المنطقة. إن استبعاد الزعماء الفاسدين لن يؤدي إلى تحسن فوري في مستويات المعيشة والحرية. على العكس، الدول الثلاث: سوريا وليبيا واليمن، شهدت حروباً أهلية دمرت البنية التحتية للدولة ومزقت المجتمعات إربا.
الأردن والمغرب عقدتا صفقات مع الحركات الإسلامية لتقاسم السلطة في حين أن المملكة العربية السعودية قد نشرت في البحرين القوات العسكرية واستخدمت القوة لتفريق المتظاهرين الذين عسكروا في وسط مدينة المنامة، وبالتالي تم تقويض الاحتجاجات السلمية.
بشكل عام، في أعقاب الربيع العربي، فقد العالم العربي استقراره ومعظم الشعب العربي يشعر بعدم الثقة نحو المستقبل. ارتفع عدد اللاجئين داخل سوريا وخارجها إلى أكثر من 7 ملايين. في العراق والسودان ليبيا، اليمن، شرد الملايين من الناس داخل بلدهم.
ويطرح الكاتب مناقشة الإسلام السياسي لأنه هو عامل رئيسي في العالم العربي ومصدر قلق وتهديد في الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي وروسيا والصين والمجتمع الدولي ككل.
ويتناول مسألة السلفية الجهادية الوهابية ودور الصوفيين في التخفيف من تمدد هذه السلفية الإرهابية.
ويرى أنه يتعين على الصين أن تكون على علم بهذا التهديد والطريقة التي يفرق فيها بين الإسلام المعتدل والمتطرفين.
كيف نطور العلاقات الصينية العربية ؟ (تعريب كامل للنص الوارد في المحاضرة)
من المرجح أن تشارك الصين في إعادة إعمار وتنمية العالم العربي. وهي كقوة عظمى، تملك الوسائل والخبرات اللازمة. ولو كان الأمر متروكا للحكومات العربية المتعددة، فإنه ينبغي عليها أن تختار الصين لأسباب مختلفة:
– لم يسبق وقوع أية حروب أو اعتداءات أو صراعات بين الصين والعالم العربي.
– إن الصين لا تريد الترويج لأيديولوجيتها أو أن تفرض ثقافتها، كما أنها لا ترغب في تغيير أيديولوجية أو ثقافة الشعوب الأخرى.
– ليس للصين طموحات لاحتلال أو ضم الأراضي العربية واستغلال الشعوب، وليست لديها ممارسات من هذا النوع في تاريخها الحديث.
– التجارة مع الصين أمر شائع على المستوى الدولي، وقد عقد العديد من الأفراد العرب إضافة الى الشركات والحكومات صفقات مع رجال أعمال صينيين وشركات صينية.
– الصناعة الصينية تتطور سريعا وقد وصلت إلى مستوى عال من الجودة.
وإنطلاقا من الواقع العربي المأساوي، يتعين على الصين اختيار مسار نهجها تجاه العالم العربي بعناية. النهج الحالي براغماتي. لبنان على سبيل المثال، بلد ذو اتجاهات سياسية مختلفة، وطوائف متعددة، وهو منفتح على الحضارة الغربية، وهو كبلد عربي يفهم الثقافة العربية. ونلاحظ في الحالة اللبنانية أن العلاقات الصينية مبنية مع كل الفصائل السياسية، ومع جميع الطوائف، وأبواب السفارة مفتوحة أمام الجميع.
الصين والعالم العربي بحاجة لمعرفة بعضهما البعض أكثر. كيف ؟
1- يجب أن يكون العرب على بيّنة من حسن النوايا السياسية للصين. إن السياسة الخارجية الصينية متوازنة وتستخدم الوسائل السلمية لتسوية النزاعات. ويكمن الأمن الصيني القومي في السلام والحوار بين الشعوب. إن امهمة القوى العسكرية للصين هي الدفاع عن البلاد وعدم التوسع على حساب سيادة الدول الأخرى. والموقف الصيني من قضية تايوان ثابت ولكنه لم يكن عنيفا مطلقا. فالبلاد لم تستخدم القوة في سياستها الخارجية، كما أنها لا تستخدم قوات بالوكالة كما تفعل الدول الأخرى. وتتبع الصفقات مع الدول الأجنبية صيغة “الربح للطرفين”. وهذا مُعبر عنه بوضوح في ورقة السياسة العربية.
“لطالما قاربت الصين العلاقات الصينية – العربية من منظور استراتيجي. ولفترة طويلة كان مبدأ الصين الدبلوماسي هو توطيد وتعميق الصداقة الصينية العربية التقليدية. وستلتزم الصين بالنهج الصحيح للعدالة والمصالح وتعزيز السلام والاستقرار والتنمية في الدول العربية، فيما تسعى الى تطوير البلاد بشكل أفضل، لتحقيق “التعاون المربح للجانبين”، والتنمية المشتركة ومستقبل أفضل للعلاقات الصينية العربية الاستراتيجية والتعاونية “.
2- يتعين على الصين توخي الحذر في تعاملها مع الأزمات المختلفة في العالم العربي. وكما ذكرنا أعلاه، لكل بلد عربي مشاكل الخاصة. وفي بعض الأحيان قد نجد نفس المشكلة في أكثر من بلد.
3- من المهم جدا تنشيط العلاقات الثقافية مع العالم العربي، والتي تشمل إرسال الطلاب إلى الجامعات العربية واستقبال الطلاب في الجامعات الصينية. علاوة على ذلك، إن زيادة عدد معاهد تعليم اللغة الصينية في العالم العربي وتشجيع العرب على تعلم اللغة الصينية من خلال التحفيز من شأنه أيضا أن يشكل خطوة هامة.
4- للأسف، إن الوضع الأمني في سوريا والعراق لا يسمح بالسياحة، ولكن السياحة في مصر متوفرة، لكن الإقبال الصيني على السياحة في مصر ما زال ضعيفا. وتعزيز العلاقات أكثر سيشجع العرب على زيارة الصين.
الدراسة باللغة الإنكليزية:
Chinese –Arab Relations :Challenges and Opportunities
General (ret) Elias Farhat Lebanon
Muslims and Arabs often echoed the words of the Prophet Mohammed, “Seek knowledge, even if in China.”(1) They focus on the Prophets directives in urging to seek knowledge even if it was in a very distant country and inaccessible. In pre Islamic ages there were no connections between the Arabs and the Chinese. Arab sailors reached India and Sindh but rarely China.
With the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century, the Arab region witnessed its first “wave from the far east”. Books and references dating back to that age refer to the awe and horror of those invasions, whereby towns were burnt and civilizations wiped out. The Mongol invasion of the Arab region, led by Hulagu, burned the capital of the Islamic caliphate Baghdad in 1258 PM and ended the dynasty of the Abbasids, who ruled for about 500 years . Other big cities like Aleppo and Damascus witnessed the same fate. This invasion was confronted by the Egyptians, led by the Mamluks in the battle of Ain Jalut in Palestine in 1260 PM ,where the Mongols were defeated and thus withdrew from Arab countries back to Mongolia .Another wave came back in the late fourteenth century with Tamerlan, who came from Central Asia (now Uzbekistan), and took over Iraq and Syria for a brief period.
The Greeks and the Romans ruled the region for about a thousand years and spread the Greek and Romanian civilization and culture amongst the Arab masses in the Levant and North Africa. The European invaders known as Crusaders, occupied parts of the region for two centuries, leaving behind traces of their cultures in the Arab region.
In the Abbasid age books in Greek and Persian, and to a lesser extent Indian, were translated into Arabic and vise versa. In that era, rarely did one hear of Chinese books translated into Arabic . It is true that the Mongols are not Chinese, and China like the Arabs suffered from the Mongol invasion, but “the long distance considerations” dominated the minds of the region’s population for centuries who considered them coming from the far east .There was no communication between China and the Arabs, and therefore no interactions between their respective civilizations has taken place .
Arab sailors departed from the coast of Oman to Archipelago of Indonesia and spread Islam into those islands via deals and good conduct and without wars and battles. This was contrary to the previous norm whereby Islam was promoted by force. In Syria, the Romans were defeated in the battle of Yarmouk in 636 PM and in the same year the Persians were defeated in Qadisiyah .This meant the spread of Islam s in Syria, Iraq and Iran. In Indonesia, Islam remained in the islands and did not reach the main land of China. The Indonesian islands were the nearest place of interaction between Muslim Arabs and Chinese.
Arab-Chinese relationship did not exist for many centuries because of the very long distance which was difficult to cross by the available means of transport. I n the twentieth century, after the great developments in communications and technology, Arab-Chinese contacts began through the gateway of communist parties and continued in a lower degree after the split between China and the Soviet Union .The contacts have been further enhanced with the recognition of China as permanent member in the United Nations Security Council and also with Beijings entry into the World trade organization in the 1970s. Arab countries, especially the GCC countries did not recognize the People’s republic of China and instead established relations with Taiwan until the early nineties when Saudi Arabia established diplomatic ties with China.
China has become a key state commercially and politically in the Arab world. Yet cultural relations still require efforts to reach the level Arabs-Western relations or Arab-Russian relations.
Ma Haidi “George Hatem”(2)
Ma Haide Dr George Hatem” is a leading figure in the realm of Chinese-Arab relations, but the Arab world showed little interest in this man.
A Lebanese American, he was the first foreigner to acquire Chinese citizenship and membership in the Chinese Communist Party .He took part in the Chinese revolution and was given the surname “Chinese doctor people” . He contributed to the elimination of leprosy and other diseases in China. In 1934 Hatem received a letter from Soon Ching Ling, the editor of “China Foundation Today” in which she told him that chairman Mao was requesting doctors to treat his soldiers. Upon receiving this letter Hatem crossed the lines and moved from the Nationalists area to the area controlled by the communists . Ma Haide (Hatem) then became the personal physician of Mao Zedong along with the soldiers, and he continued in his job until Mao achieved victory and declared China a Communist state in 1949. Hatem died in1988 and was buried in a cemetery reserved for Chinese heroes in Babaoshan in Beijing.In his home town Hammana in Mount Lebanon the community honored him and built a statue of Hatem .Few Arabs and Muslims knew about Ma Haidi “George Hatem” , and this shows how weak China’s cultural influence is in the Arab world.
How do Arabs view China?
Arabs consider China an industrialized country offering its products for cheap prices and competing with European and American products .They see the Chinese goods available in different varieties. However, they do not trust the quality of Chinese goods and consider them of inferior quality compared to the Western . Arab politicians see China as an Asian country, which played a prominent role in supporting the Palestinian revolution and other liberation movements all over the world. Other Arabs see China as a communist state carrying a hostile ideology which contradicts with Islam, so they have taken an aggressive stance towards it. This lasted until the situation changed completely at the international level, and China opened up to Western countries .In the Arab world, hostility has turned to cooperation and friendship, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the decline of what was considered a communist threat. After China’s entry into the global business market and the Arab states all recognizing the Peoples Republic of China, the situation changed dramatically. Relations improved and trade increased significantly between the GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, and China. No longer was the communist threat raised, and Arabs increased their visits to China, mostly for the purpose of trade and business.
Flights from several Arab cities to China’s major cities have increased, carrying large numbers of travelers, mostly for work purposes .Arabs opened commercial offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Juan Zhou and other cities and brought many Chinese companies to Arab countries which proceeded to carry out a variety of projects. Chinese contractors, workers and technical experts travelled to certain Arab countries in unprecedented numbers.
The relationship between Arabs and Chinese has a commercial character and did not expand to the cultural aspects .Setting up branches of the Confucius Institute in Arab cities was a necessary step to break the cultural and civilizational ice between the two parties. The Arab public does not understand the Chinese civilization and the Arts and Heritage in China. Arabs saw that the Chinese imported products were made according to Western models without the traditional Chinese character .Chinese tourism is very limited in Arab countries and now it has somehow come to a halt after the Arab spring .A limited number of Chinese tourists visit the Gulf states and Morocco whereas we see large numbers of Chinese tourists in Europe and the United States.
Arab tourists in China enjoyed the Great Wall and the Forbidden City but rarely did they listen to the musical performances, or view artistic and traditional activities. This fact is one aspect of the development of China-Arab relations and it shows need for cultural understanding between the two sides to develop any relationship in any field.
In the realm of language, we find a little bit of Chinese learning the Arabic language for research and works related to the armed forces and the diplomatic corps .Arabs meanwhile are in no rush to learn the Chinese language .In France, for example, the Chinese language is one of the three languages in the curricula and many students choose to learn Chinese. Both Chinese and Arabs prefer to communicate in English as the international language of business .But business networking is not enough to deepen the relations between the people, and cultural and artistic interactions remain a must.
Of the most important cultural interactions is translation. Yet the translation between the two languages was not enough to get both people to know each others culture .Arabic masterpieces which were translated into western languages are still absent in the Chinese language, we also find a small number of Chinese books translated into Arabic , some of them were translated from a third language ,English or French.
The Chinese theater and cinema are almost absent from Arab-screens and theaters and we rarely find Arab concerts playing Chinese music. Indian cinema once invaded the “Arab-screen” and Indian movies are still shown in Arab cities and on TV screens.
The launch of the Chinese TV station CCTV was an important event for the Arab public to get know more about China .Yet the Arab viewers are still limited because of thousands of available TV SAT in Arabic. Anyway CCTV promoted information about China more than other means of communication.
Military cooperation between China and some Arab countries allowed for the exchange of experiences and for the familiarization of the cultures and traditions of each party. Many military officers, attended training courses in Chinese institutes and China has trained many people from the Palestine Liberation Organization.
While we find Chinese presence in the US and European cities, “China Town” does not exist in the Arab world because the Chinese who visit the Arab world are businessmen, workers and tourists and not residents or immigrants, as they are in the United States and Europe.
Chinese food, is available in private Chinese restaurants spread in the Arab capitals .In Beirut, for example, numerous Chinese restaurants attract many Lebanese and foreign tourists.
Despite the approach that has been achieved in the past three decades between China and the Arabs, the cultural gap is still wide and China remains in the eyes of most Arabs an unfamiliar country with unfamiliar people .We need more time and more cultural interaction to bridge the gap.
Religion remains the biggest problem . Arabs dealt with non- Arab Muslims in Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and South Asia by religious association. The Arab region is the cradle of the Christian, Islamic and Jewish religions called the divine religions. Muslims called Christians and Jews, the name “People of the Book”(3) a designation which refers to the believers of these religions .Christians are not strangers in the region, and Arab Christians are a main component of the region and its indigenous population. They were a link with the West, both Europe and the US .And Christian culture is known to different degrees in the Arab region, which eased the dealings with the West.
Arabs have no idea about religion in China .They consider Chinese beliefs non-divine with the exception of small Muslim and Christian minorities. Chinese are not pagans and the philosophy and teachings of Confucius are not acceptable to Islam.
Shedding light on the problem of religion is necessary, because we are at present witnessing a radical Islamist wave that has reached the level whereby non-Muslims are considered infidels as well as some Muslim sects like Shiite, Alawis, Ismailis, Druze and Yezidis in Syria and Iraq. Individuals from the Chinese Muslim community joined the terrorist organization al-Qaeda and ISIS and took part in terrorist operations in Syria and Iraq .This religious dispute urges us to take into account the consequences on the situation in the Chinese areas where Muslims reside, and the violence and terrorism that are likely to be committed by terrorists in China.
The cultural gap between the Arab world and China limits the possibilities of addressing the dangers of terrorist threats.
What does China want from Arabs?
Chinese President Xi JiPing published an article in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh on the eve of his visit to Saudi Arabia , which included the following excerpt : “We should be partners of mutual benefit, and seek mutual development through cooperation and common benefits.”(4)
In his talk about partnership and mutual benefits, President Xi set a framework of equality between the two parties and focused on mutual respect .It is the first time a super power speaks seriously about partnership .Overwhelmingly , international relations are formally based on equality but realistically on domination .During the era of colonialism ,the colonial states exploited the resources of colonized countries. The term Imperialism which was added to colonialism means how to exploit people and benefit from their fortunes. Western countries often waged wars to maintain control over resources and raw materials. Most inter-African wars have taken place to control diamond mines, and other wars reasons were energy-related .The cold war dominated the US-Arab relations from two angles :the US- Soviet Union confrontation, and energy issues. Arab relations with the colonial powers were not based on mutual benefit, as colonial countries promoted their culture through universities, associations, hospitals and cultural centers, at the same time placing economic, security and political issues under their control.The result of this was the absence of real independence.
Will China change the rules of the game and seek seriously mutual benefit? This is proved by practices.
In the case of Saudi Arabia, China is a main importer of Saudi oil (a quarter of Chinese imports) . China s large market is opened to Saudi Arabia,while China has supplied Saudi Arabia with the Don-Feng 21 surface to surface long range missiles.Trade between the two countries meanwhile reached 71 billons $ in 2015. In foreign policy, China recently supported Security Council Resolution 2216 on Yemen in favor of Saudi Arabia, a step which was taken because of the Chinese –Saudi relations. On the other hand, China and its ally Russia used veto-power 3 times in the UNSC vote against draft resolutions about Syria because pragmatically, this was in the interest of Chinese strategy.
Is China a colonial power?
Simply put, China is not a colonial power, it has not occupied any country , neither imposed its policies on other states. China did not take the wealth of any country but went for partnership and mutual benefit.
Arab views towards China are different than those towards Western countries Western countries had historical ambitions in Arab world: The French occupied Algeria in 1830 and Morocco through Protection in 1912, in addition to Syria and Lebanon in 1918. Britain occupied Egypt in 1882 and Iraq in 1918 and Sudan in 1898 and placed Gulf Coast, Kuwait and the Coast of Oman, and Aden under its authority in 1820. Italy meanwhile occupied Libya in 1912.
The history of occupation is still fresh in the minds of the Arabs . China in the nineteenth century suffered from the British wars of opium and invasions, and was occupied in accordance with the agreement of 1860.Thus both the Arabs and the Chinese suffered from Western occupation.
In the Cold War some Arab countries allied with the United States and the West ,and considered China as a communist country that poses a threat to their countries .Most of these countries did not recognize The Peoples Republic of China , and instead recognized Taiwan. On the other side, other countries following the Soviet bloc considered China as a friendly and allied country and established diplomatic relations .The Chinese- Soviet dispute led the Arab communist parties to stay distant from China and keep their relations with the Soviet Union in spite of the Chinese positions supporting the Arab issues.
After the end of the Cold War, Arabs changed their positions towards China and pivoted to more friendly ties .In the Arab eyes, China is a super power and a major industrial nation and most important of all a country that has no territorial ambitions . There are no Arab concerns or fears from any relationship with China, as Beijing is seen as not posing any threat to Arab interests and culture . Arabs consider that China is a pragmatic political country which preserves the interests of all parties concerned and does business sincerely .It is rare in the Arab world to hear any antagonist statement against China, neither from government officers nor from politicians or media .Generally Arabs do not criticize China as they do some times with super powers and other countries.
As for the Arab –Israeli conflict and the Palestinian question , Arabs feel that China was a strong supporter of the Palestinian peoples struggle to establish their own independent state. China supported the Palestinian revolution and armed and trained various factions of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).It recognized the PLO as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and later recognized the Palestinian state declared by the Palestinian Authority .China disapproved Israeli aggressions and occupation of Arab land and supported implementation of UNSC resolution 242 and other relevant resolutions that envision a comprehensive settlement of the conflict which includes Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab lands.This was mentioned in the Arab Policy Paper issued by the government of China and was referred to in the Chinese positions in foreign policy and in the United Nations forums. In this respect all Arabs appreciate China and consider its positions clear and firm.
The issue of international terrorism is a concern for Arabs, Muslims, and all the world. It has risen in the aftermath of the 9,11, 2001 attacks in the US. It is confirmed that the 19 terrorists who committed 9,11 attacks were Arab Muslims. Among them were 15 from Saudi Arabia ,two from UAE, and one from Lebanon and Egypt. This raised skepticism towards Islamic Wahhabi Salafism, the trend of the terrorists.
Terrorism continued after 9,11 even more, and struck several countries all over the world including Arab states and China.
Serious cooperation and coordination between countries under threat in the frame of UN resolutions is necessary in order to fight terrorism .Unfortunately the war against terrorism declared by the US resulted in a bigger rise and promotion of terrorism. Either there is a defect in this war or there is no good faith in some countries. This should push for more coordination between China and Arab countries in order to avoid any terrorist attacks. It means that there should be coordination between governments and security services .Exchange of intelligence and data about the would be terrorists, should take place honestly and seriously .The fact that there are terrorists who came from Xing Xiang in China and joined Alqaeda(5) affiliated terrorists groups as well as ISIS makes the situation dangerous. Efforts should be taken in order to save innocent people in both China and Arab countries and all over the world.
The fact of Arab political regimes
In order to understand the relations between any country with another individual country or group of countries , we have to consider the history ,the political system of each country ,the constitution , laws ,regulations and the process of decision making .Furthermore we have to be familiar with the authority of the parliament if it exists, and the judiciary .
The simplest definition of Arab countries is that they are the member states of the Arab league, a regional middle eastern organization founded in 1945.All of the Arab states contain a majority of ethnic Arabs or Arab speaking people. There are many ethnic minorities such as the Kurds, Turkmen, Caucasians, Amazigh, and Black African tribes(in Sudan),in addition to religious minorities like Christians from several sects(Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Protestants, Assyrians), not to mention Jews and Yezidis. Within Islam there are various sects ,the majority are Sunni Islam and the biggest minority are the Shiites (they are the majority in Iraq), Alawites, Ismailis , Druze, Shabak, and others.
Unlike other regional organizations ,the Arab League was not a reliable power .Its charter stipulates that resolutions should be adopted unanimously ,which made the decision making process very difficult and sometimes impossible. In the beginning, Egypt and Saudi Arabia controlled the league. The support of these two countries to any draft resolution was enough to adopt any resolution. Yet the two countries agree sometimes but they dispute often ,hence paralyzing the league .Once in 1976 they agreed on a resolution to deploy Arab Deterrence Force to keep peace in Lebanon. Yet the implementation did not last long and after two years, this force turned to be another dispute in Lebanon and deteriorated the situation and became part of the civil war in that country.
This league failed to reach settlements to Arab problems and crisis. In 1948 it failed to prevent the creation of the state of Israel on the land of Palestine and did nothing to defend the Palestinian people who were attacked and massacred by Zionist gangs and driven out of their home towns and villages to the neighboring states of Egypt ,Syria, Jordan and Lebanon where they are still living as refugees and seeking to return back home.
In spite of the geostrategic position of the Arab states and control of strategic waterways like the Suez canal and the straits of Bab El Mandab and Hermuz, and the hydrocarbon wealth which made them powerful in the energy market, they did not achieve any progress to solve the Palestinian question and put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people.
China is aware of the situation. The recent Arab policy paper expressed the Chinese position on this conflict : “China supports the Middle East peace process and the establishment of an independent state of Palestine with full sovereignty, based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. China supports the Arab League and its member states’ efforts to this end.”(6)
A serious of failure of the Arab league made it invaluable .In order to count the troubles of the Arab world we need a series of studies. We will mention the Arab conflicts with outsiders and the Arab-Arab conflicts.
We have witnessed Arab –Israeli war in 1948, Egypt –France , Britain ,Israel war in 1956,Arab –Israeli war in 1967,Arab –Israeli war in 1973,and Lebanese, Syrian, PLO-Israel war in 1982.In addition to Israeli –Lebanese and Hezbollah war in 2006 and Hamas –Israeli wars in 2008,2012,and 2014.
Iraq – Iran war lasted 8 years between 1980 to 1988 and was destructive for both countries ,while the Iraqi invasion to Kuwait in 1990 created a deep wound between Iraq and Gulf States. Operation Desert Storm in 1991 led by the United States and the international coalition drove Iraq from Kuwait, while Operation Iraq freedom, which was the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003, resulted in the occupation of Iraq after ending the regime of Saddam Hossein.
The invasion of Libya by NATO Air force and Special Forces meanwhile took place according to the security council resolution 1973 upon the request of the Arab League!
These wars and conflicts resulted in millions either dying or being wounded or displaced .Hundreds of thousands of houses and factories were also destroyed along with severe damage to infrastructure during a near 70 years period during which the region witnessed these wars.
The conflicts between Arab countries are no less dangereous.
The conflict between the Baathists in Iraq and Syria started in 1979 .The borders between the two countries were closed ,diplomatic relations were severed ,trade was halted ,and each side planned coup d etats against the other, which were foiled but at the same time caused mutual suspicion between both sides. Ironically ,in 2003 ,after Operation Iraqi Freedom, the borders reopened.
The conflict between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara started in 1975 when Spain ,the colonial power ,withdrew its forces .So far all diplomatic efforts and regional ,Arab and international mediation have failed to settle the conflict. The borders between the two countries have remained closed since 1994.
The first civil war between Sudan government and the Southern rebels started in 1955 and went on until 1972, resulting in the death of more than one million and the displacement of 4 millions(7) . In 1983 the war resumed until 2005 when an agreement was reached on the independence of South Sudan. This partition was unfortunately not a positive development .At the same time a fierce conflict is taking place between Darfor tribes and the central government of Sudan and another has erupted inside South Sudan between rival tribes.
Libya after the NATO intervention and overthrow of Qaddafi became a failed state and the same goes for Somalia .Yemen and Iraq are also on their way to becoming failed states.
Yemen is the poorest Arab country .For centuries it was under the rule of a dynasty of Imams who acted as kings with religious authority .In 1962 a group of Army officers made a coup d etat and declared Yemen a republic and ended the royal Imami (Religious rank in Islam) regime which lasted eight centuries .Saudi Arabia feared that the republican system regime would spread in the Arab peninsula and reach Saudi Arabia itself. This led the Saudis to support the Imamists, and a civil war soon broke out between the republican government and the Imami rebels in the North . Egypt supported the republicans and sent an Army to fight the Imamis. The war lasted until 1970 when Saudi Arabia and Egypt reached an agreement to end the war and keep the republic regime.
South Yemen meanwhile was under the occupation of Britain. A revolution started in Aden and other parts of the South which led to independence and the withdrawal of British forces in 1968.That year the South Yemen Popular Republic was declared.
In 1990 North Yemen and South Yemen declared unity between both parts and The Arab Yemeni Republic was declared .In 1994 the South sought separation and the Northern Army went to the South to undermine the separation movement by force.
Political regimes are different between one state and another. Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) ,are monarchies, and such is the case also for Jordan and Morocco. Some of these countries have no written constitution. Among the GCC countries only Kuwait has a parliament elected by people and a government accountable .
Bahrain has a parliament which misrepresents the people. The prime minister has been in office since the independence in 1974!
Others have no elected bodies .The king or the prince holds full power ,executive , legislative and judiciary.
In GCC countries human rights are limited , political parties are not allowed ,and there is no free press. In Saudi Arabia women are not even allowed to drive a car and at the same time are not represented in state institutes. There is also no freedom of religion : Islam is the only religion and it is not allowed to practice rituals of any other religion. Non Muslims meanwhile are not allowed to enter the holy city Mecca.(8)
Other GCC countries ease the measures on other religions and are more open when it comes to women rights. All the regimes are based on Royal families and inherit power without elections.
In all GCC countries currency converting and transferring through the banking system are available
Syria is a Baath totalitarian regime where authority is in hands of the elected president. The term is 7 years subject to renewal two times. Syria is a secular country where women are free and take part in politics and business .Freedom of religion is available to all religions, but political parties are constrained .No opposition groups are allowed to work and there is no real freedom of press.
Egypt is the most deep rooted country in the Arab world .The state goes back thousands of years to the Pharos .During most stages of history Egypt was a principal state and once it was the center of the Fatimids Califa .Egypt was a kingdom until 1952 when a group of officers calling themselves ”free officers” made a coup d etat and overthrew the royal regime, thus turning Egypt into a republic. Under president Naser, Egypt became an international player in the Arab world, and amongst nonaligned countries and Africa. The Army plays the principal role in domestic and foreign politics and the rival was the Muslim Brotherhood MB. The dispute between the Army and the MB has continued since the fifties when the MB attempted to assassinate president Naser .One of its branches did assassinate president Sadat in 1981.
Egypt is the Arab country where the people are the most united and cohesive in and the power of state is spread all over the country.
According to the current constitution, the president leads the decision making process. The president is elected for 4 years and allowed to renew one term only. The elected parliament so far has not been effective.
Morocco and Jordan are both monarchies , and yet in each of them there is an elected parliament and a government headed by a prime minister .The king presides the three powers, the executive , the legislative and the judiciary ,but there is an extent of representation of people.
Iraq under the new constitution adopted in 2004 is a democratic country where authorities are distributed between the president ,the prime minister and the parliament speaker. The practice proved that the Judiciary is not independent. Most of the executive Power is in the hands of the prime minister who should be Shiite(9) .The president is Kurdish and has little authority in guiding the constitution. The parliament does enjoy authority and it does hold the government accountable. Its speaker is Sunni(10) and it plays a main role in enacting laws. This confessional distribution extends to the ministers and local governors . The political parties are Sunni and Shiite religious and ethnic Kurds and There are no secular or nationalist political parties. This has made the decision making process difficult as it has to take into consideration the views of the three confessions.
Lebanon is the smallest country with an important geopolitical position .It is a multi confessional country and it witnessed a civil war between 1975 and 1990 after which the Taif(11) national accord agreement was concluded . In 2005 and after the assassination of former president Rafiq Hariri, the country witnessed chaos and unrest. According to Taif , the leaders of the confessional communities agreed to preserve stability and the unity of government and state institutions as much as possible.
The decision making process needs the agreement of the political leaders of the principal confessions ,then formally the government and the parliament to take the necessary measures.
In the Arab world we see different political regimes. Each country has its own decision making process. Power lies in the hands of kings , princes, dictators, parties, and also confessional and tribal leaders .
Any political or economic deal with the Arab states or the Arab companies should be preceded by a full study of the country in terms of:
-The short and recent history of the country
– The security situation and the possibilities of unrest shaking stability.
-The foreign relations, especially with the neighboring countries.
-The credibility in abiding by international law
-The decision making power.
-The credibility of the Judiciary
-The human rights and freedom of expression, religion, and movements.
This is frankly the situation in the Arab world today.
The Arab Spring
The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa in early 2011 and are still ongoing. But their real purpose, relative success and final outcome remain disputed in Arab countries, among foreign observers, non state actors, and between world powers looking for their interests in the changing map of the Middle East. It started in Tunisia when Mohamed Bo Azizi, a street vendor, set himself on fire on December 17 ,2011 in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the humiliation that was inflicted on him by a municipal official .Tunisian president Ben Ali stepped down quickly and dramatically and suddenly took refuge in Saudi Arabia .His fall inflamed the Arab street as demonstrations were held in unprecedented numbers in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Libya ,Jordan and Moroco.
After 5 years ,the scene changed. Only Tunisia witnesses democratic change through free elections. Yet the country is being targeted by terrorist organizations like ISIS and AlQaeda, thereby striking the tourism industry and inflicting ecnomic losses. Egypt witnessed two presidential changes : President Morsi of the Moslem brotherhood was elected democratically and won with a slight majority .After one year in power and under heavy demonstrations, the Armed Forces along with AlAzhar Moslem association and the Egyptian Church, took over the power and appointed Adli Mansour the chief of the supreme court interim president and after a year the powerful General SISI was elected president, thereby ending the Moslem Brotherhood regime.
Egypt is now a target of terrorist organizations: Tourism received a heavy blow after a civilian airliner carrying tourists was blown up . The economy shrank and the country is suffering from a weak economy and unemployment.
Libya was invaded in accordance to UNSC resolution 1973 which was adopted at the request of the Arab league .It called for a no fly zone in the Libyan air pace and for protection of the civilians. Under this pretext ,NATO warplanes attacked infrastructure and destroyed all the Army bases and airports. For the purpose of protection of the civilians ,special operations units from NATO countries attacked the Libyan land. Qaddafi was killed and chaos prevailed in the country.
Now Libya is divided between zones of influence of tribes, and engaged in civil wars between various tribes. The most dangerous aspect is that ISIS occupies about 300 kms of the Libyan coast and AlQaeda is spread out in parts of the country. Efforts to reunite the country and reconstruct the central government did not reach a positive end.
In March 2011 ,Syria witnessed demonstrations against the regime ,which were met by counter demonstrations supporting the regime. The attempts to divide the Army by defections and assassination of high ranking officers did not paralyze it. Yet the Army suffered heavy losses in men ,material ,and positions ,in addition to airports , barracks ,warehouses and others .It did not lose the command and control system and kept fighting all over the country within the available ready units. In the beginning of 2012 Syria witnessed a wave of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings by Alqaeda affiliated groups. Alqaeda entered Syria from neighboring Iraq and terrorist organizations deployed on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian borders. The crisis turned into a war between the regime and the terrorist organizations of ISIS and AlQaeda affiliated groups, mainly Jabhat AlNusra. The civilian opposition shrank and opened the way for terrorists to take control of some towns and countryside villages. The terrorists expanded to occupy about 50%of Syrian territory.
Western powers presented 3 draft resolutions to the United Nations security council to allow for military intervention in Syria .China along with the Russian Federation vetoed the drafts, thus avoiding Syria the fate of a new Libya which would threaten the stability and security of the entire region.
Terrorism in Syria is no more just about sleeper cells and committing attacks and hiding. Rather terrorism in Syria has become an Army .The Army of ISIS is made up of more than 50 thousands fighters deployed in Syria and Iraq mainly on the basin of the Euphrates River and in north and west of Iraq. The Army of AlQaeda is made of roughly the same numbers deployed in the northwest and the South. These armies have their logistical bases in Turkey , importings vehices and receiving weapons and ammunition from Turkey ,Jordan and to a lighter extent from Lebanon. ISIS controls oil fields and sells stolen oil to Turkish traders . Foreign fighters who joined ISIS and AlQaeda in Syria came from North Africa ,Gulf states , Central Asia ,Europe, China and elsewhere. International terrorist organizations are still recruiting ,mobilizing, and transferring terrorists to Syria and Iraq. Most likely they use Turkey as an assembly area where they arrive and then move into Syria and Iraq. In spite of all international efforts this process is still active and many terrorists enter Syria daily .This is why international press and media have published that terrorists came to Syria from 82 foreign countries.
Hezbollah, a non state actor in neighboring Lebanon, supported the Syrian government and took part in the fight against ISIS and Alqaeda. More Shiite fighters came from Iraq and Afghanistan while Iran meanwhile also supported the government with members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards taking part in the fight and taking up advisory roles for the Syrian military commanders.
Russia meanwhile established an air base in western Syria .
So far diplomatic efforts have not reached a frame work of peace in Syria. Negotiations in Geneva are taking place between the Syrian government and the opposition. But this opposition has no weight whatsoever on the ground which is completely dominated by terrorist organizations. Ironically the terrorists have prevented the opposition from entering the areas which are said to be dominated by the opposition!
The complex situation in Syria gives a stark warning that war will last longer than expected .The conflict likely will spill over the region.
The winner in Syria is a winner in the region and to a certain extent in the world. Russia sent troops and Air Force squadrons and took part in the fight against the terrorist organizations to prevent them from taking over Syria,and Moscow has succeeded in changing the situation on the ground in favor of the Syrian government.
In Yemen the Arab spring started through demonstrations demanding reforms in the political regime and the stepping down of president Ali Abdallah Saleh.The GCC countries(12) ,and especially Saudi Arabia expressed deep concern about the troubles in their Yemeni backyard. After an attempt to assassinate president Saleh ,he survived and was treated in a Saudi hospital. The GCC countries then issued a peace initiative calling for the stepping down of president Saleh whilst preserving all his civilian and political rights. Vice president Abed Rabbo Hadi took office as an interim president for two years during which a dialogue was held between all Yemeni factions which were supposed to be followed by elections to vote in a new president. Saleh stepped down and Hadi took over ,but the rest of the initiative did not work. The Ansar Allah party known as Houthis allied with former president Saleh started dialogue with other parties .The dialogue did not break the deadlock. Two years passed with no election held and no national consensus has been reached. President Hadi resigned and left the capital Sana which had become under the control of Ansar Allah, fleeing to the southern city of Aden .Ansar Allah forces chased him to Aden and occupied South Yemeni provinces. This was unacceptable for the GCC and especially Saudi Arabia, which accused Iran of supporting the Houthis to dominate all Yemen .
On March 27 , Saudi Arabia led an Arab coalition and attacked Yemen with the aim of returning the legitimacy to President Hadi and his government. Prominent Arab and Muslim like Egypt and Pakistan rebuffed Saudi demands to join this force. GCC countries have taken part and the United Arab Emirates air force and ground units took up and important role in the fighting .More than one year has passed and president Hadi is still in Saudi Arabia and has not returned home, while Saleh and Houthis remain steadfast in facing the Arab coalition which has failed to undermine them.The UN Secretary General representative issued a piece initiative and called to a cease fire on April 10 and talks in Kuwait on April 18 .It is difficult to reach a win win settlement.
Infrastructure in Yemen has been destroyed , while thousands have been killed and tens of thousands injured. Millions of people are suffering famine and shortage of medical supplies and medicine and the country is in dire need of reconstruction. The war will likely continue as AlQaeda occupies about 500 kms on the coast of Yemen including large towns, thereby posing a real threat to the Arab peninsula(13). The AlQaeda presence on the Yemeni coast may threaten navigation in the Sea of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean in the near future.
The final outcome of the Arab Spring was a failure only if we expected that decades of authoritarian regimes could be easily reversed and replaced with stable democratic systems across the region. The removal of corrupt leaders did not result in instant improvement of the living and freedom standards. On the contrary three countries: Syria, Libya and Yemen, witnessed civil war that destroyed the infrastructure of the state and tore the societies into pieces. Jordan and Morocco struck deals with Muslim movements to share power while in Bahrain Saudi Arabia has deployed military forces and used force to disperse the protesters who had camped out in downtown Manama, thereby undermining the peaceful protests.
In general, in the aftermath of the Arab spring the Arab world has lost its stability and most Arab people feel uncertain towards future. The number of refugees inside and outside Syria has risen to more than 7 million .In Iraq ,Sudan Libya, Yemen ,millions of people were displaced within their own country.
It is worth discussing political Islam because it is a major factor in the Arab world and a concern and a threat in the US and the EU , Russia and China and all the international community .
There are pan -Arab political parties like the Baath, the Arab nationals ,the Naserists, and the communists. Pan Islamic parties became more effective and active after the retreat of nationalism and communism and the fall of the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc and the Baath in Iraq and Syria. The Muslim brotherhood is the biggest non state actor in the world .Some scholars believe that it is active in 37 countries including Russia and China. The “Guidance Office” leads the international organization all over the world and it is now stationed in Turkey. The Muslim Brotherhood ,founded in 1928 in Egypt ,is a key player in Asia. It took power in Turkey ( the Justice and development is a branch), Egypt , Sudan ,and Tunisia , and shared power in Libya and Moroco .It is a main player in Syria ,Yemen , Algeria, Iraq,and to a less extent in other countries. Another pan Islamic party is the Libertion Party (Hizb Al Tahrir Al Islami).It was founded in Jerusalem and has wide support in Indonesia ,Malaysia and central Asia and it is prohibited in Bangladesh.This party seeks Al Khilafa Al-Islamiah which means Muslim rule in the Muslim world which lasted until 1923 when Ataturk ended the religious Khilafa in Turkey.
They were supported financially and politically by Saudi Arabia .Both are sources of Islamic extremism and violence .The terrorist organizations of Al Qaeda and ISIS are Salafists and Salafism attracts members of the two parties.The Salafi trend is the official confession of Saudi Arabia and it promotes Salafi Wahhabi confession all over the world. This was on the Sunni side .On the Shiite side there are no pan Islamic Shiite political parties,yet they are present on the national level in some countries .In Lebanon Hezbollah and Amal are two Shiite political parties. In Iraq there are 3 political Shiite parties, Aldawa, Higher Islamic council, and AlSader current . Iran leads what looks like Shiite missionaries in the Muslim world .Sunni countries complain of Iran religious activities but so far no mass defections from Sunni to Shii have been reported.
The Islamic League funded by Saudi Arabia promotes Islam Salafi Wahhabi in the world . It starts by building mosques and promoting religious education in which it promotes the Wahhabi militant confession, which is the one that Al Qaeda and ISIS believe in. Like the religious schools in Pakistan which led to Taliban ,these schools and their curricula are very dangerous in terms of raising children on hatred and violence. The graduates are those who later became suicide bombers in Syria ,Iraq, Paris ,Brussels and other places in the world.
China should be aware of this threat and the way it differentiates between moderate Islam and extremists .
The Sufi movements in Islam are the most spiritual trends .It was common among the Islamic world .It is based on asceticism and austerity .It calls for love of God and people. Unfortunately the Wahhabi Salafi Alqaeda fought the Sufis and carried out many suicide attacks targeted their mosques in Pakistan ,India ,Caucus and other countries.
Encouraging Sufis will help Muslims leave the violent trend of the Salafi ,Muslim brotherhood and Altahrir. Unfortunately ,so far, Saudi Arabia and some Gulf states are funding the Wahhabi Salafi and persecuting the Sufi (majority of Sunnis) and other confessions.
How we develop the Chinese Arab relations?
China is the country that is likely will take part in reconstruction and development of the Arab world. As a super power it owns the means and expertise needed .If it is up to the various Arab governments in the end they should choose China for different reasons:
– There are no precedents of wars or aggressions or conflicts between China and the Arab world.
-China is no more a country wants to promote its ideology and to impose its culture ,neither does it want to change other peoples ideology or culture.
-China has no ambitions to occupy or annex Arab lands and exploit people ,and there are no such exercises in its modern history.
-Trade with China is common on the international level and many Arab individuals as well as companies and governments had deals with Chinese businessmen and Chinese companies .
-Chinese industry is developing quickly and reached a high level of quality.
Starting from the tragic Arab realities ,China should pick carefully the path of approach to the Arab world. The current approach is pragmatic . Lebanon for example is a country of diverse political trends ,multi confessions ,and open to the western civilization and as an Arab country that understands the Arab culture. In the case of Lebanon we notice that Chinese relations are built with all political factions, and all confessions and the embassy keeps its doors open to all parties.
China and the Arab world need to know each other more .How?
1-Arabs should be aware of the good faith of China in politics .The Chinese foreign policy is balanced and seeks peaceful means to settle disputes. Chinas national security lies in peace and dialogue between nations. Chinas military mission is to defend the country and not to expand at the expense of the sovereignty of other nations. Chinas stance on the issue of Taiwan is firm but was never violent .It never used force in its foreign policy ,neither does it use proxy forces as other countries do .Deals with foreign countries follow the “win win situation” formula. This is expressed clearly in the Arab Policy Paper(14)
“ China has always approached Chinese-Arab relations from a strategic perspective. It is China’s long-held diplomatic principle to consolidate and deepen China-Arab traditional friendship. China will adhere to the right approach to justice and interests and promote peace, stability and development of Arab states while seeking better development of China, to achieve “win-win cooperation”, common development and a better future of the China-Arab strategic and cooperative relations.”
2- China should be careful in its approach to the different crisis in the Arab world. As we mentioned above ,each Arab country has its own problems .Sometimes ,the same problem is found in more than one country.
3- It is very important to activate cultural relations with the Arab world ,which includes sending students to Arab universities and receiving students in the Chinese universities,. Moreover ,increasing the number of Chinese teaching institutes in the Arab world and encouraging Arabs to learn Chinese language through stimulus and incentives would also be an important step.
4- Unfortunately ,the security situation in Syria and Iraq does not allow tourism ,but in Egypt it is available . What would also further enhance ties would be encouraging Arabs to visit China.
(1)Hadeeth: All talks of prophet Mohamed to his companions,gathered by two versions called Sahih (i.e correct) of Moslem and Sahih AlBoukhary
(2) Porter, Edgar A (1997), The People’s Doctor: George Hatem and China’s Revolution
(3) Verses in holy Qoran e.g 3 – 64
(4) Article written by president Xi JiPing published in the Saudi daily AlRiyadh on Jan8 2016 on the eve of his visit to Saudi Arabia
(5)AlQaeda :Innternational terrorist organization made up of Salafi Moslim groups famous of 9,11 attacks in Newyork and Washington USA
(6) Xinhua:English version of Full text of China’s Arab Policy Paper,issued in January 2016
(7) The First Sudanese Civil War
Africans, Arabs, and Israelis in the Southern Sudan, 1955-1972
Authors: Poggo, S.
(8)Mecca a city in western Saudi Arabia in Hijaz province Where prophet Mohamed was born and started promoting God s message
(9)and (10): Sunni is the main sect in Islam about 90%,Shiit is the second about 9 % and 1% others
(11)Taif :city in Saudi Arabia hosted a reconciliation conference of Lebanese factions and concluded National Accord Document in November 1989.Lebanese Constitution was amended according to this document.
(12) GCC :Gulf Cooperation Council,a regional organization in the Gulf made up of 6 neighboring countries Saudi Arabia,United Arab Emirates,Oman ,Kuwait ,Qatar and Bahrain
(13)Recently President Hadi forces supported by Saudi led Coalition have retaken most of the coastal cities and Alqaeda was driven out to several places inside Yemen
(14)Xinhua:English version of Full text of China’s Arab Policy (5)