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Muslim Nations with Beijing Over US in South China Sea Conflict


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In recent years, the geopolitical landscape of the South China Sea has been a focal point of international tensions. Amidst these disputes, many Muslim-majority countries have shown a consistent pattern of support for China’s stance. What is the reasons behind this support, examining the economic, strategic, and diplomatic factors that influence these nations’ positions.

Economic Ties and Strategic Investments

One of the primary reasons Muslim countries support China in the South China Sea dispute is the robust economic relationships they maintain with Beijing. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has seen significant investments in infrastructure, energy, and trade across the Muslim world. For instance, Indonesia has significantly deepened its economic ties with China under President Joko Widodo, with bilateral trade and investment reaching new heights. The establishment of a “2+2” dialogue mechanism for foreign and defense ministers underscores the strategic depth of this relationship.

Similarly, Malaysia’s economic interdependence with China, particularly in the energy sector, plays a crucial role. Malaysia relies heavily on oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea, where Chinese vessels have a consistent presence. Despite the potential for direct confrontations, Malaysia has opted for a cautious approach to avoid jeopardizing its economic interests with China.

Diplomatic Support and Political Alliances

Diplomatically, many Muslim countries align with China due to shared interests and mutual support on various international platforms. Pakistan, for example, has been a staunch ally of China, consistently supporting Beijing’s “one-China” policy and opposing any form of Taiwanese independence. This alliance is further strengthened by projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which enhances Pakistan’s strategic and economic connectivity with China.

Pakistan’s unwavering support for China can be seen in statements by leaders like President Asif Ali Zardari, who reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to China’s core interests. The development of Gwadar Port under CPEC highlights the deep economic and strategic ties between the two countries, showcasing why Pakistan stands firmly with China in the South China Sea dispute.

Balancing Geopolitical Interests

Muslim-majority countries often find themselves balancing their geopolitical interests between major powers. The United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy aims to curb China’s influence in Southeast Asia, yet countries like Indonesia have chosen to strengthen ties with China instead of joining the US-led “anti-China camp.” This strategic decision is influenced by the desire to maintain autonomy in foreign policy and capitalize on China’s economic growth.

In the broader context, Muslim countries view their support for China as a pragmatic approach to navigating the complex geopolitical environment. By aligning with China, these nations aim to secure economic benefits, ensure political stability, and avoid being caught in the crossfire of superpower rivalries.

Strategic alliances

The support of Muslim countries for China in the South China Sea dispute is rooted in a combination of economic interdependence, strategic alliances, and pragmatic geopolitical calculations. As China continues to expand its influence through initiatives like the BRI and CPEC, these countries find it beneficial to maintain strong ties with Beijing. This alignment not only enhances their economic prospects but also positions them favorably in the evolving geopolitical landscape.

Understanding the motivations behind this support sheds light on the complex dynamics at play in the South China Sea and underscores the importance of economic and strategic considerations in shaping international relations.

Saeed Minhas
Saeed Minhas
Saeed Minhas is an accomplished journalist with extensive experience in the field. He has held prominent positions such as Editor at Daily Times and Daily Duniya. Currently, he serves as the Chief Editor (National) at The Think Tank Journal

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