Studies 27 May, 2024

The Position of the GCC States in the Belt and Road Initiative

Emad Y. Kaddorah

Head of the Editing Department at the ACRPS. He holds a PhD in International Relations and Middle East Studies and an MA in Defense and Strategic Studies. He has published several books and peer-reviewed articles, including Turkish Foreign Policy: Orientations, Flexible Alliances, Power Politics (Doha/Beirut: ACRPS, 2021); The Rise of the GCC States and Turkey: Convergent and Divergent Regional Agendas (New Castle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021). His research interests focus on Geopolitics, International Relations, the Gulf and Turkish Studies.


The geography, resources, and capacities of states are an important part of China’s global strategy. Yet, although the Gulf is strategically located and of economic importance to China, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states did not fall along the original routes demarcated by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). acrobat Icon Nevertheless, both China and these states have begun to mutually engage with the initiative, signing strategic partnerships, aligning these projects with national development visions in the region, and investing in Gulf ports and industrial cities. The expansion of the initiative has unsettled the United States (US) and its allies, some of whom have begun to view it as a serious challenge. In turn, they have attempted to impede the initiative by forming geopolitical alliances and proposing alternative economic initiatives. This article argues that the Gulf is of great concern to China and a key part of the BRI. It explores how the GCC states fit into BRI maps and the way in which each state has gradually become integrated into the BRI. It discusses Western responses to the initiative and the degree to which these may impact the GCC states. The paper offers tentative conclusions about China’s likely approach if the initiative is obstructed and its interests undermined. Will it modify its foreign policy approach? And how may this affect the Gulf?