China and America in the Middle East

Mar 11, 2024
American and Chinese flags on a world map representing bilateral relations and trade.

An interesting essay that takes a critical but well-informed look at the development of China’s Middle East policy-settings recently appeared in the journal Foreign Policy. You can read the article – written by Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Washington-based Stimson Centre.

Ms Sun draws on much relevant experience as she writes, having spent many years reviewing Chinese international policy-making (including at the International Crisis Group and the Brookings Institution) after first graduating in Beijing.

This essay maintains that China does not want to replace the US as the primary security guarantor in the Middle East – for one thing, as Ms Sun observes, Beijing’s limited defence budget precludes this. In brief, the author briskly argues that China is ultimately pleased to benefit from the US security architecture established in the Middle East (53% of its crude oil imports come from there) while at the same time challenging and criticising US policy in that region. As the-title says: “China Wants to Weaken, Not Replace the U.S. in the Middle East.”

Assuming that Beijing’s policy is measurably opportunistic, as argued, Sun’s article implicitly also tells us how that broad policy approach signals a pragmatically embedded, mature attitude to addressing serious foreign policy challenges. Notwithstanding the now continuous spasms of anxiety-fuelled antagonism directed at Beijing from Washington, Beijing can still stand back and see clearly where the US and China share mutual interests. Moreover, China understands where American action may be delivering certain beneficial outcomes. Imagine what a less upside-down world we might be living in today if Washington’s increasingly paranoid foreign policy was visibly closer to being this grounded.

Share and Enjoy !

Subscribe to John Menadue's Newsletter
Subscribe to John Menadue's Newsletter


Thank you for subscribing!