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New US-Backed India-Middle East Trade Route to Challenge China’s Ambitions

Abu Dhabi, UAECNN — US President Joe Biden, along with leaders of India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, announced on Saturday the launch of a new trade route connecting India to the Middle East and Europe through railways and ports. The White House said the project would usher in a “new era of connectivity.”

Some analysts are saying it will be a direct challenge to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure project launched a decade ago by Beijing with the aim of connecting China to the rest of the world.

Announced at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in India, Biden’s plan also includes the European Union, France, Italy and Germany. It is comprised of two separate routes – an east corridor linking India to the Gulf Arab states and a northern corridor connecting the Gulf states to Europe.

The ambitious plan shows that the US can count on its Middle East allies in its efforts to contain China’s rise, but also how the Gulf states try to find a balance between traditional allies like the US and emerging partners like China in what they see as a world order that is no longer unipolar.

At the same time, they are positioning themselves as essential economic and political partners to the world’s most powerful states.

Goods and services would transit through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Europe. The route will also enable electricity and digital connectivity, as well as pipes for clean hydrogen export.

Seated between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and MBZ, Biden said the agreement announced at the summit was “a big deal.”

“The world stands at an inflection point in history,” Biden said, adding that investment in the plan today is more critical than ever.

Israel, which has made it a priority to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia, also hailed the project, saying it “changes our global and historical situation” and advances the vision of “joining Israel to the world.”

Notably absent from the summit was China’s Xi Jinping, who has never missed a G20 summit since taking power in 2012, and whose country has been strengthening ties with Gulf Arab states.

Source : CNN