China Steps Into The Middle East Maelstrom, by James Dorsey

Will China get stuck on the Middle Eastern tar baby like everyone else has? From James Dorsey via zerohedge.com:

The Middle East has a knack for sucking external powers into its conflicts. China’s ventures into the region have shown how difficult it is to maintain its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

China’s abandonment of non-interference is manifested by its (largely ineffective) efforts to mediate conflicts in South Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan as well as between Israel and Palestine and even between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is even more evident in China’s trashing of its vow not to establish foreign military bases, which became apparent when it established a naval base in Djibouti and when reports surfaced that it intends to use Pakistan’s deep sea port of Gwadar as a military facility.

This contradiction between China’s policy on the ground and its long-standing non-interventionist foreign policy principles means that Beijing often struggles to meet the expectations of Middle Eastern states. It also means that China risks tying itself up in political knots in countries such as Pakistan, which is home to the crown jewel of its Belt and Road Initiative — the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Middle Eastern autocrats have tried to embrace the Chinese model of economic liberalism coupled with tight political control. They see China’s declared principle of non-interference in the affairs of others for what it is: support for authoritarian rule. The principle of this policy is in effect the same as the decades-old US policy of opting for stability over democracy in the Middle East.

It is now a risky policy for the United States and China to engage in given the region’s post-Arab Spring history with brutal and often violent transitions. If anything, instead of having been ‘stabilised’ by US and Chinese policies, the region is still at the beginning of a transition process that could take up to a quarter of a century to resolve.

There is no guarantee that autocrats will emerge as the winners.

China currently appears to have the upper hand against the United States for influence across the greater Middle East, but Chinese policies threaten to make that advantage short-term at best.

To continue reading: China Steps Into The Middle East Maelstrom

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One response to “China Steps Into The Middle East Maelstrom, by James Dorsey

  1. “Heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia and Iran for oil, China cannot afford a full-scale war in the region.”

    I googled “does China support Sunnis or Shiites in the Middle East” and found the above from:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/01/china-saudi-iran-conflict-oil-160106124359989.html

    This suggests to me that China will do just fine in the ME and become just as bogged down and confused as all of the other non-indigenous advisers, consultants, partners, and failed conquerors.

    Like

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