To understand China’s role in the Middle East, consider one recent event, and one recent non-event. In late March, Beijing made headlines by sending warships to rescue hundreds of Chinese and foreign nationals from conflict-torn Yemen. Yet in early April, Chinese President Xi Jinping canceled what was supposed to be his first official trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, reportedly as a result of the fighting in Yemen — underscoring that Beijing would rather get out of the kitchen than stand the heat of Middle Eastern politics. Indeed, it is China’s considerable absence, rather than burgeoning influence, that continues to define its role in this turbulent region.
China has good reasons to care about events in the Middle East: Roughly halfof its oil imports come from the Persian Gulf. Moreover, Beijing worries about extremist elements in the region providing training and inspiration to Muslim separatists in western China.
Read the full op-ed at Foreign Policy.
More from CNAS
Executive Summary China and North Korea pose intertwined challenges for U.S. and allied policy. The Korean Peninsula constitutes just one area among many in U.S.-China relatio...
By Jacob Stokes
CommentaryThe Biden administration just stalled China’s advance in the Indo-Pacific
Australia, by intensifying the military competition with China, could tee up a chain of as yet unforeseen events....
By Robert D. Kaplan
CommentaryChina tariff policies flounder without a strategy
The White House ought to be asking a series of questions. What problem are we responding to? What are we trying to achieve? How will 301s and tariffs further that?...
By Van Jackson
CommentaryNeoliberals, Anti-imperialists, and the China Question
If there are arguments to be made in favor of cooperation with China, or to justify not sweating China’s accumulation of power, they’re probably best made on grounds other tha...
By Van Jackson