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China in the Middle East: The Wary Dragon

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Technical Report

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RAND Corporation - Arroyo Center Santa Monica United States

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This study examines Chinas economic, political, and security roles in the Middle East, focusing on Chinas relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran. The study explores what China is doing in the Middle East and why. Once considered by Beijing as a peripheral and relatively insignificant region of the world, the Middle East now looms much larger in Chinas national security calculus than ever before. Beijings unprecedented interest and involvement in the Middle East raises the question of what is driving this activism. What explains Chinas increased attention to the Middle East, and what are the implications of this development for the United StatesThe findings of this study suggest that Beijing is driven primarily by economic interests, as well as an attempt to rebalance its domestic, foreign, and security policies so that these are less skewed in favor of eastern China and East Asia. Greater interest and involvement in the Middle East are manifestations of growing dependence on energy resources from the region and Chinese efforts to march west into Central Asia and beyond. With the launch of the New Silk Road initiative, officially announced by President Xi Jinping in September 2013, Beijings Middle East strategy was subsumed under a grand and highly ambitious effort to build the overland Silk Road Belt and the Maritime Silk Road linking China to the Middle East and beyond. While countering the United States is a factor, it is not the central driver of Chinas Middle East strategy.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science

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