The past two decades have seen substantial changes in the global economy
and geopolitical trends, with the rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)
on the global and regional stage. These developments are creating new
opportunities for the Middle East countries as they look to diversify their
economies, increase trade, and seek investment opportunities in emerging
markets; this includes schemes such as forging strategic partnerships with
China to promote the new Silk Road vision and to incorporate it into their
national development plan.
All of this reflects a growing tendency among the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) states, which seek to benefit from the favorable business
conditions in China, as well as the latter’s expertise and experience in its
rapid path to economic development (Fulton, 2018a).
Kuwait, a tiny country with an area of about 18,000 square kilometers,
is no exception to this burgeoning trend. This tiny emirate is nestled atop the
strategic Arabian Peninsula located in the northwestern corner of the Persian
Gulf, sharing 462 km of land boundaries with Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and
commanding a coastline of 499 km. Kuwait was one of the first Gulf countries to
establish diplomatic relations with China, 47 years ago, on March 22, 1971 (Niazi,
The relations between China and Kuwait have been developing smoothly and
growing steadily since then. The two countries enjoy cordial and friendly
relations, share similar views on major international and regional issues, and
are continually tendering sympathy and support to each other (Olimat,
2016). They have also been working in coordination to broaden and deepen
cooperation in the political, economic, and social fields.
This study investigates some of the aspects behind the establishment of
the China–Kuwait strategic partnership and examines the synergies between the
Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) and the Kuwait Vision 2035 (KV2035).
Since Chinese President Xi Jinping first unveiled the BRI in September
2013, Kuwait was among the first Arab countries to sign a cooperation agreement
with China under the BRI framework and one of the founding members of the
China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (Anderson, 2018).