Chinese influence and growing restrictions in the Middle East Chinese influence and growing restrictions in the Middle East

Chinese influence and growing restrictions in the Middle East

Chinese influence and growing restrictions in the Middle East

It is known that China's interest in the Middle East was formalized in the last century based on energy sources. As China took advantage of its cheap labor force to become a rising economic power in the world trade circle, its demand for the Middle East grew. In particular, for China, the world's largest exporter of goods and the most dependent on oil as the engine of its industry, the Middle East is a major market, a source of oil, and a sea route that is a key factor in the smoothness of goods exports. It was increasingly being described as "openness" to China. But in the recent situation, the influence of political factors added to this is not less than the influence of other factors.

The ongoing Hamas-Israeli conflict in the Middle East is known to be one of the factors that make China's efforts to expand its influence in the Middle East more obvious. Political analyst Dale Aluf (Dale Aluf) recently published a review in the "Diplomat" newspaper. Some people consider the increase of China's influence as an "attempt to squeeze American influence out of the Middle East", while another opinion believes that "no matter how much China's influence in the region increases, they will not be able to make any significant changes in the Middle East." But the author believes that China's expanding influence in the Middle East is currently more focused on the economic sphere.

According to the review, China is the largest oil importer of any country, with almost half of its imports coming from the Middle East. Between 2017 and 2022, trade between China and the Middle East will double from $262 billion to $507 billion. In particular, with the increase in the number of Arab countries participating in China's "One Belt One Road" project, the level and weight of this type of economic cooperation has increased.

Ms. Yun Sun, the director of the Chinese department of the Stimson Center, one of the famous think tanks in Washington, believes that China's huge economic interests in the Middle East will make them "firmly support" Palestine and thereby win the patronage of the Arab world, as well as "an American protectorate". ” determined to oppose Israel.

 "It is clear that China has always taken sides. They have also made it clear to them that they do not support Israel. In the Middle East superpower competition, China is playing the economic stage. But because the United States has always been the policeman of the Middle East, these two great powers are playing their roles in the Middle East from different angles. China also understands this point and is playing the economic trump card in the Middle East instead of directly competing with the United States. China is the largest customer of oil in the Middle East, in other words, the largest buyer in the region. In this regard, China's season will not change. But China does not want to replace the United States in the Middle East. Because they know they don't have the power to do it. »

Abdulhakim Idris, director of the Center for Uyghur Studies in Washington, believes China's Middle East policy has changed to a certain extent in the past 10 years. China used to adopt a "soft power" policy in the Middle East, but in recent times it has changed its approach.

Political analyst Jon B. Alterman, in his Foreign Affairs review, notes China's sensitivity to energy issues in the Middle East. He believes that when US-China relations turned rough, the Chinese side was very worried that their energy route from the Middle East would be cut off. Because this road is so "bare", it is a game changer for the United States, which has been a "security police" in the Middle East for half a century, to cut this road. If this route is cut, it will be a fatal economic blow to China. But the United States not only did this, but also kept silent about China's involvement in the Middle East countries in the "One Belt, One Road" project. China has widely popularized its image as a "liberator" in the Middle East and has vividly demonstrated that it is an economic "pain reliever" power in a region where "anti-Americanism" is rampant. Although China does not have a real military force in the Middle East region, it has cleverly taken advantage of the peace situation in the Middle East maintained by the United States and has become one of the two major foreign powers in the region.

Deil Aluf argues that as relations with the Western world have soured, the importance of the Middle East to China has become more apparent. Especially for China, while the gates of the West are closing, the Middle East has opened its doors to various technological innovations and "smart city" projects. Again, while the Western world is withdrawing its capital from China, the Middle East has declared that the enormous financial power it has accumulated is becoming a new financial capital, and China can also take advantage of it. Thus, Deil Aluf describes this situation as "China is now roaring in the Middle East, but the club in their hands is not as big as the sound."

According to Ms. Yun Sun, the purpose of China's talk about avoiding a greater conflict in the Middle East is precisely to prevent this kind of "interest plate" from collapsing. Therefore, in the case of China's strong interests, there may not be a major conflict in this area.

 "I don't think China wants a war or any kind of conflict here. Because any conflict there will directly affect their oil imports. Because of this, the Chinese government has been cautious about investing in the area. That's why they didn't give everything they asked for in their relationship with Iran. Such a strategic relationship may seem like a conflict, but China doesn't want to see it. So there are concerns of tension here, but it's not manifesting itself in reality."

Indeed, China's efforts to expand its influence in the Middle East may not be strong enough to overwhelm the influence of the United States, but it is quite capable of limiting other influences to a large extent. In particular, the issue of the Uyghurs, who are facing genocide, has become the biggest victim in this network of relationships. In addition, because of the huge economic relationship with China, the massacre of Uyghurs has easily become a "secondary issue" for Middle Eastern countries. But Abdulhakim Idris believes that, even though there is no real possibility in the hands of Uyghurs in limiting Chinese influence in the Middle East, the activities of Uyghur organizations on this issue must continue.

However, experts agree that the fact that China does not have the power to overthrow the US influence in the Middle East region is not a guarantee that they will not have such aspirations in the future. Instead, their desire to become a dominant influence in the Middle East through trade, infrastructure and technology cooperation continues. Therefore, it is very important for the policy sector to always take into account China's influence in the Middle East.

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