How to cite: Sun, D. & Abdrabou, A.A. (2021). The development of China-Arab cultural exchanges: Opportunities and challenges in the Belt and Road era. Belt & Road Initiative Quarterly, 2(4), 24-42. 


This article aims to analyze the scope and features of China-Arab cultural relations and its implications on their bilateral political and economic partnerships. These bilateral relations have evolved from strategic cooperation in 2010 to strategic partnership in 2018. Political cooperation, economic development, and cultural exchanges represent the three pillars of the contemporary China-Arab strategic partnership. China’s cultural exchanges with Arab countries are implemented by different agencies. Education, publication, tourist, and religious exchanges have become the main pillars of cultural exchange. In this process, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Propaganda Department of the CPC Central Committee, the Xinhua News Agency, the State Administration of Radio and Television, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Press and Publication Administration, the State Administration of Religion, the Ministry of Education, the China Center for Language Education and Cooperation, the China-Arab Friendship Association, and other departments have formed a portfolio to participate in cultural exchanges between China and Arab countries. Their cultural exchanges are driven by Chinese and Arab officials. The two sides have set an example of South-South cooperation for exchanges of hearts and minds. Through the process, strategic cooperation between China and Arab countries has been enriched, which is an important means to enhance China’s soft power in the Arab world. On this background, in this study firstly, it is introduced what the Chinese tools for cultural cooperation and which organizations are used, then the intellectual cooperation between China and Arab countries, the role of public opinion, the ways for improving mutual understanding, interactions between religious groups will be analyzed. It is also questioned the prospects of China-Arab cultural exchange. Finally, these issues will be evaluated in conclusion.

Keywords: Belt & Road Initiative, China-Arab relations, China’s Middle East diplomacy, cultural exchange, soft power