Tablet: China’s Emerging Middle Eastern Kingdom
Wed August, 2020, Age: 4 years
According to the reigning view in Washington, China’s interests in the Middle East are largely economic. Thus, the Asian superpower adopts a position of neutrality towards political and military conflicts, because taking sides would make enemies who might then restrict China’s access to market. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that this assumption is false, and China has become actively engaged in a hard-power contest with the United States in the Middle East.
In addition to supplying drones and other weaponry that have been used in Syria, Yemen, and other states, China has egregiously flouted the U.S. sanctions on Iran, with Chinese purchases of Iranian oil propping up the state’s economy. In 2016, Xi Jinping embarked on a diplomatic tour-de-force in the region, and many of his efforts to deepen relations with state leaders have been backed by extravagant infrastructure investment promises connected to the Belt and Road Initiative which has been criticized for its “debt-trap diplomacy”.