Sino-Arab relations have extended historically back to the first Caliphate, with important trade routes, and good diplomatic relations. Following the age of Imperialism, the Sino-Arab relations have been halted for several centuries, until both gained independence in the 19th and 20th century.
Today, modern Sino-Arab relations are evolving into a new era, with the SACF (Sino-Arab cooperation Forum) helping the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Arab nations to establish a new partnership in an era of the growing globalization.
As a result, close economic, political and military relations between the two sides have been maintained. In 2018, the relations became significantly warmer, with China and the Arab world exchanging state visits, establishing cooperation mechanism and providing support to each other.
Since 1990, no Arab country has official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (ROC), although they are diplomatically represented via the Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices.
During the Tang dynasty, when relations with Arabs were first established, the Chinese called the Arabs 大食 (Dàsí or Dasi).
The Caliphate was called "Da Si Guo" (ta shi kuo) 大食國.
Da means great or Big and Shi means Eat or Food. The word is thought to be a transcription of Persian Tāzik or Tāzī, derived from a nisba of the Arab tribe Ṭayyiʾ.
The modern term for Arab is 阿拉伯 (Ālābó or Alabo).
The Arab Islamic Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (r. 644-656) sent an embassy to the Tang court at Chang'an.
Arab sources claim Qutayba ibn Muslim briefly took Kashgar from China and withdrew after an agreement but modern historians entirely dismiss this claim. The Arab Umayyad Caliphate in 715 AD desposed Ikhshid, the king the Fergana Valley, and installed a new king Alutar on the throne. The deposed king fled to Kucha (seat of Anxi Protectorate), and sought Chinese intervention.
The Chinese sent 10,000 troops under Zhang Xiaosong to Ferghana. He defeated Alutar and the Arab occupation force at Namangan and reinstalled Ikhshid on the throne.
Chinese General Tang Jiahui led the Chinese to defeat the following Arab-Tibetan attack in the Battle of Aksu.
The attack on Aksu was joined by Turgesh Khan Suluk.
Both Uch Turfan and Aksu were attacked by the Turgesh, Arab, and Tibetan force on 15 August 717. Qarluqs serving under Chinese command, under Arsila Xian, a Western Turkic Qaghan serving under the Chinese Assistant Grand Protector General Tang Jiahui defeated the attack. Al-Yashkuri, the Arab commander and his army fled to Tashkent after they were defeated.
Although the Tang Dynasty and the Abbasid Caliphate had fought at Talas, on June 11, 758, an Abbasid embassy arrived at Chang'an simultaneously with the Uyghur Khaganate envoys in order to pay tribute.
A Chinese captured at Talas, Du Huan, was brought to Baghdad and toured throughout the caliphate. He observed that in Merv, Khurasan, Arabs and Persians lived in mixed concentrations.
He gave an account of the Arab people in the Tongdian in 801 which he wrote when he returned to China.
Arabia Dashi was originally part of Persia. The men have high noses, are dark, and bearded.
The women are very fair white and when they go out they veil the face. Five times daily they worship God Tianshen.
They wear silver girdles, with silver knives suspended.
They do not drink wine, nor use music.
Their place of worship will accommodate several hundreds of people.
Every seventh day the king (Caliph) sits on high, and speaks to those below saying, ' Those who are killed by the enemy will be born in heaven above; those who slay the enemy will receive happiness.'
Therefore they are usually valiant fighters.
Their land is sandy and stony, not fit for cultivation; so they hunt and eat flesh.
This (Kufa) is the place of their capital.
Its men and women are attractive in appearance and large in stature.
Their clothing is handsome, and their carriage and demeanor leisurely and lovely. When women go outdoors, they always cover their faces, regardless of whether they are noble or base. They pray to heaven five times a day.
They eat meat even when practicing abstention, for they believe the taking of life to be meritorious.
The followers of the confession of the “Dashi” (the Arabs) have a means to denote the degrees of family relations, but it is degenerated and they don’t bother about it. They don’t eat the meat of pigs, dogs, donkeys and horses, they don’t respect neither the king of the country, neither their parents, they don’t believe in supernatural powers, they perform sacrifice to heaven and to no one else. According their customs every seventh day is a holiday, on which no trade and no cash transactions are done, whereas when they drink alcohol, they are behaving in a ridiculous and undisciplined way during the whole day.
An Arab envoy presented horses and a girdle to the Chinese in 713, but he refused to pay homage to the Emperor, said, he said "In my country we only bow to God never to a Prince".
The first thing the court was going to do was to murder the envoy, however, a minister intervened, saying "a difference in the court etiquette of foreign countries ought not to be considered a crime." A second Arab envoy performed the required rituals and paid homage to the Emperor in 726 A.D. He was gifted with a "purple robe and a girdle".
There was a controversy between the Arab ambassadors and Uyghur Khaganate Ambassadors over who should go first into the Chinese court, they were then guided by the Master of Ceremonies into two different entrances. Three Da shi ambassadors arrived at the Tang court in 198 A.D.
A war which was raging between the Arabs and Tibetans from 785-804 benefited the Chinese.
Products were traded by sea routes between China and Arabs. According to Professor Samy S. Swayd Fatimid missionaries made their Dawah in China during the reign of al-'Aziz bi-Allah.