Analyzing the current relationship between the UAE and China: Strategic Hedging or Diversification of Partners?

  • Mouza K. Alnuaimi

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    In International Relations (IR) theories, scholars explain the behavior of some states to manage their relations with greater powers in terms of 'balancing' or 'bandwagoning.' However, 'hedging' behavior of small states such as the UAE falls somewhere in the middle. Hedging is when a small or medium state pursues a host of opposite and deliberately ambiguous policies vis-a-vis competing powers in order to provide insurance if circumstances change. The purpose of the study is to identify whether or not the UAE is using the hedging behavior toward a rising power, People's Republic of China (PRC), in order to offset potential changes in its relations with its main security provider, the US. In doing so the thesis answers important questions related to the UAE's current and future security such as: to what extent is the UAE displaying hedging behavior vis-a-vis China? And how do UAE political elites perceive China as a security partner? Adopting a qualitative research approach and using information from the interviews of scholars, policymakers and government leaders as well as social media posts by the UAE's leaders, the thesis finds that that the UAE is currently not engaging in hedging behavior vis-a-vis China. Rather, the UAE's leaders are smartly pursuing a diversification strategy with China and multiple other powers, particularly in the economic realm. The UAE sees China as an increasingly important trade, technology and financial partner. In terms of security, however, the UAE remains close to the US and other Western states such as France and there is little indication that this will change anytime in the near future.
    Date of AwardJun 2020
    Original languageAmerican English


    • Hedging
    • balancing-bandwagoning
    • small states
    • UAE government elites
    • and perception.

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