News — ChangeLab

China seeks closer ties in the Middle East. CICC expansion in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

Amid growing tensions in China's relations with the West, the head of China plans to expand its presence in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, starting with the opening of a branch of the China Investment Bank (CICC) in these countries and obtaining the necessary licenses to provide financial services. The expansion of CICC is designed to help the region transform its industry and reduce its dependence on the commodity sector.

This pattern of "pivoting to the Middle East" was undertaken by the Chinese government because of the West's tightening control over Chinese investments in many areas important to China's economy, from computer chips to the agricultural sector. Among other things, Hong Kong has begun to rapidly increase its ties with the Middle East in order to restore the city's reputation after the damage caused by covid isolation. The Hong Kong government is now seeking to cooperate with Arab oil giant Saudi Aramco with a view to its listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. After all, Aramco has a market capitalization of more than $1.9 trillion, four times the capitalization of Tencent Holdings Ltd, the most valuable stock on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Our team notes that to build sustainable financial cooperation with the Middle East, China will actively use all its capacities, including its main investment center, Hong Kong. This is because the Middle East is an important market for China and a territory with great potential for joint development. Therefore, we expect that Middle Eastern companies focused on the Chinese market will be more likely to interact with bankers through Hong Kong, which will become a kind of a link between the countries and help the Asian financial giant to gain a strong foothold in the Middle Eastern market.