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China's efforts conform to historical trend of Middle East unity and development


03 July 2023 | By Ding Long | Global Times

  • China and Middle East

    Illustration: Xia Qing/Global Times

I

n recent years, China and the Middle East have made some impressive diplomatic achievements. The inaugural China-Arab States Summit was successfully held in Riyadh at the end of last year. China then helped bring about a historic reunion between Saudi Arabia and Iran earlier this year, sparking a wave of peace in the Middle East. The recent China-Arab Business Conference in Riyadh was also extremely successful. Sino-Arabic commerce and investment are expanding quickly. 

Due to the successful execution of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, China's diplomacy with the Middle East has increased significantly in recent years. A surge of momentum for mutually beneficial relationships is being created by China's long-standing political and economic advantages in the Middle East, pushing both parties to expand and deepen their cooperation. China has reacted to the historical trend of the Middle East seeking unity and development, bringing positive energy for peace and development in the long-troubled region. China's Middle East diplomacy has received widespread praise.

However, this was not what everyone wanted, and some cliches started to circulate regarding China's role in the Middle East. They think that China is not expected to be an exception given how tough it has always been to penetrate the Middle East. Through the perspective of China-US competition, some US academics and the media have scrutinized China's involvement in the Middle East, contending that China is winning and the US is losing because of the tide of reconciliation there. Why is the US concerned China will suffer greatly as a result of its "involvement" in the Middle East situation? If that is the case, why doesn't the US expect China's involvement in the Middle East crisis to distract China away from the South China Sea, the Indo-Pacific, and other US-China conflict zones? Because if that is the case, wouldn't the US will win its strategic rivalry with China?

It must be realized that such arguments expose how evil some Americans' motivations are. This viewpoint, however, is based on an incorrect interpretation of China's Middle East policy, and both its premise and conclusion are ludicrous and dumb.

To begin with, the theory of "Middle East graveyard" is an empirical declaration of hegemony, colonialism, and imperialism. Throughout history, the West has stumbled greatly in the Middle East, and for them, it is indeed the graveyard where empires were buried. Nevertheless, the historical experience of the Western powers in the Middle East does not speak for all. China does not pursue military aggression or economic hegemony in the Middle East.  

ASDA'A BCW, a Dubai-based PR consultancy, recently conducted a survey among 3,600 people aged between 18 and 24 in 18 Arab countries. The results show that 80 percent of those surveyed consider China an ally, ranking near the top. 

Second, China and the US have different ways of involvement in the Middle East. The primary method of US participation in the Middle East is military intervention. However, the US is jeopardizing the security of Middle Eastern security creating regional disorder. It incites hostility and conflict among Middle Eastern countries, ganging up with its allies in order to repress its rivals. It breaks security first and then offers itself as the solution, leaving its allies no alternative but to rely on the US. 

Now, Middle East countries have recognized the nature of US security saboteurs and have begun to implement multidimensional and balanced diplomacy. On the other side, China has acted as a mediator for peace and a catalyst for development in the region, and its desecuritization of the region has sparked a wave of reconciliation and markedly improved its security condition.

And last, the Middle East is not an arena for zero-sum game between China and the US. But if we approach the Middle East with a Cold War mentality, we will come to the conclusion that China gains and America loses. The US treats the Middle East as an object of competition between China and the US. They are making attempts to reduce Chinese influence in the Middle East in the areas of politics, economy, security, and technology. Yet, the two sides are not only rivals; they also share a lot of interests in common and are able to work together in a variety of situations.

Finally, the fundamental reason for China's increasing role in the Middle East is that it understands the latter's problems, responds to its changes, and meets its demands. China is fostering peace, construction, and development in the Middle East and will receive applause and friendship in the region. 

 

The author is a professor with the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University.

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