President Joe Biden’s foreign policy suffered yet another blow in the Middle East when Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday it is conducting joint naval exercises with Communist China. This continued a trend of Beijing replacing Washington’s influence under the current administration.
The three weeks of military drills are called “Blue Sword” and were first held in 2019. Hundreds of military personnel came out for the launch of the exercise in the city of Zhanjiang.
The Chinese state-run Global Times heralded the joint program as a venture “to boost the mutual trust and friendly relations between the Chinese and Saudi Arabian navies.”
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The exercises will be divided between an initial training phase, a professional training phase and a comprehensive drill phase.
The later stage will feature live-fire shooting, sniping-on-command and underwater explosives disarming, according to press releases from the People’s Liberation Army.
The staging is reportedly centered on a simulated hijacking of a commercial ship. That vessel must be rescued by joint forces of the Chinese and Saudi navies.
China has conducted similar drills with Iran and Russia. Many observers believe it is part of a concerted effort by Beijing to extend the nation’s influence into the Middle East.
The 2019 exercises were held at King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah as the communist regime sought to be a power broker in this key global region.
Beijing reported they involved “Chinese participants coming from the Jiaolong Commandos under the PLA Marine Corps, and their Saudi Arabian counterparts from the Special Forces of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.”
Other measures included China’s brokering of a reconciliation agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia earlier this year. Then there’s Beijing’s recent hosting of Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad, who rarely ventures out of his home territory.
Last March, China conducted a military exercise in the Gulf of Oman with Russia and Iran called Security Belt 2023.
China’s navy also provides escort missions for shipping in the Gulf of Aden and in waters near the Somalian coast to ward off piracy. Communist leaders say they have escorted more than 6,000 vessels off the African coast and Aden.
Their growing influence is yet another example of Biden’s failure to maintain American preeminence on the world stage.