What is China Up To?

Earlier this month, The Media Line reported that China welcomed delegations from Iran and Pakistan to Beijing for joint counterterrorism talks. The talks are expected to yield positive results in the fight against extremism, according to experts aligned with China, Pakistan, and Iran. They say the new initiative will likely lead to increased peace and stability in the wider Middle East region as well as within the borders of the involved countries.

Other security experts in the region believe the meeting represents China’s ambition to replace the US as the main player in the Middle East and beyond. In April, China brokered a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, two countries that had not had diplomatic relations since 2016. That same month, China also inserted itself into the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang offering to facilitate peace talks.

Azeem Khalid, an expert on China-Pakistan relations and professor of international relations at COMSATS University Islamabad, noted that China’s role in these talks, as well as in the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, consolidates China’s power in the region and positions the country as “a credible alternative to the United States in effectively managing regional affairs.” Khalid notes, “This paradigm shift has profound systemic implications, as China appears to be gradually assuming the role of the region’s primary power broker.”

Adrian Calamel, Middle East and global security expert agrees. He believes China is seeking to undermine the US by increasing its role in the Middle East. According to Calamel, “The notion of China acting as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestine conflict is ridiculous. . . . China has been effectively challenging American primacy without drawing into open hostilities. . . . When there is an economic, political, and diplomatic vacuum, China will try to fill it.”

Amer Al Sabaileh, a Jordanian strategic analyst and a nonresident fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington, also views China’s moves in the Middle East as part of an overall strategy to promote China’s interests. Al Sabaileh said, “China managed to build good and steady relations with various countries in the Middle East by offering cooperation and investment. . . . The role of China in the Middle East cannot be compared to the US, but definitely it represents for many a new chance and a new vital partner.”

The Blessors’ Bottom Line

The United States must reengage with the nations of the Middle East and recapture the ground it has recently forfeited.

China has one goal, global domination by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. In light of China’s professed agenda, its influence in the Middle East is of serious concern. China does not have allies, only pawns that it manipulates to achieve its objective. Therefore, a realignment of nations under China’s leadership will not serve to promote peace in the Middle East. Rather, it will promote China’s agenda at the expense of the nations of the Middle East, especially Israel. China is no friend of Israel.

Dr. Matthew Dodd and Geoff Hetrick
June 22, 2023