ADEN -- Despite China's economic interest in the UAE, and its secret pursuit of a military foothold in the Emirati port of Khalifa, it has not demonstrated a commitment to the Emirates' defence, analysts say.
In January, Iran-backed Houthis attacked the UAE with ballistic missiles and armed drones, while in early February an Iraqi militia linked to Iran calling itself Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq claimed another barrage of drone attacks on the UAE.
"The Houthis' strikes targeted a country where many Chinese citizens live and a significant number of their companies operate," non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council Ahmed Aboudouh wrote on February 3.
"The UAE hosts more than 200,000 Chinese citizens running a vast pool of more than 6,000 companies. It's also the largest logistical hub for Chinese trade, and more than 60% of Chinese goods in the region transit through it," he said.
Yet, China largely maintained its silence on recent strikes on the UAE.
According to political analyst Faisal Ahmed, China's unwillingness to support and protect its economic and trade partner stems from "its 25-year strategic agreement with Iran", which extends to the military arena.
Chinese-UAE co-operation is limited to the economic sphere, he said, and does not include security. This is perplexing, he told Al-Mashareq, as "economic interests could be seriously harmed if they are exposed to terrorist attacks".
He also pointed to recent reports that showed ships disguised as commercial vessels of a type typically used by the Chinese military for signal intelligence collection entering Khalifa port.
He suggested that this activity is likely to serve China's own interests, and those of its strategic partner, Iran, rather than that of the UAE.
Partnership with Gulf
Just like with the UAE, China has no security partnership with the rest of the Gulf states, and the partnership is confined to the economic and commercial aspects, Abaad Centre for Research and Studies director Abdul Salam Mohammed said.
Instead, "the Gulf states have security and military partnerships with the United States", he said, noting that US support for the UAE comes as part of its support for regional security.
US co-operation with the UAE includes military agreements between the two sides based on common interests, political analyst Wadah al-Yaman Abdel Qader said.
The UAE's relations with China are limited to commerce, he said, attributing Beijing's non-co-operation with the UAE on the security and military levels to China's "military agreements with Iran and Russia".
US co-operation is key in light of Iran's attempt to re-draw the map of the region to further its own agenda, political analyst Mahmoud al-Taher said.
He called on the United States to work to eliminate the danger from Iran's proxies entirely, as this will otherwise remain a source of constant threat to its allies.
A squadron of US Air Force F-22 Raptors recently arrived at al-Dhafra air base "as part of a multifaceted demonstration of US support", the US Air Force said.
The February 12 deployment came in response to a volley of attacks throughout January that threatened US and Emirati forces.
"The US Secretary of Defence ordered the rapid deployment of the fifth-generation aircraft in co-ordination with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE," the US Air Force said in a statement.
The F-22s "will join a range of joint, coalition and allied and partner combat airpower capabilities already based across the region", it added.
"The Raptors' presence will bolster already strong partner nation defences and puts destabilising forces on notice that the United States and our partners are committed to enabling peace and stability in the region," said 9th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot.
The United States also sent the guided missile destroyer USS Cole to Abu Dhabi to partner with the UAE navy, where it will continue to provide early warning intelligence and collaborate on air defence, the US Air Force said.
"Collectively, the actions serve as a clear signal that the United States stands with the UAE as a strategic partner," it said.
Emirati political scientist Abdul-Khaleq Abdullah was among those who welcomed the additional US support to the UAE in the wake of the attacks.
"Welcome to the US F-22 Raptor fighters that have arrived in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi," he said on Twitter, describing the jets as "the absolute best and most powerful fighter".