China's Foray into the Middle East: from Ambivalence to Ambition?

Michael Clarke

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    China has often been seen as maintaining an aloof foreign policy in the Middle East. This chapter argues, however, that China�s approach to the Middle East has evolved over the course of the post�Cold War era toward a more active approach. Informed by a neoclassical realist theoretical framework, the chapter argues that China�s more active foreign policy toward the region has been shaped by the convergence of key systemic/structural and domestic factors. At the structural/systemic level, China has sought two inter-related goals: to combat what it perceives as the adverse geopolitical effects of American hegemony and to construct a viable strategic and economic alternative to the current US-led international order. This has entailed developing strategic relationships with key regional states (e.g., Saudi Arabia and Iran) and significant investment of diplomatic capital to develop a reputation for equanimity vis-�-vis major regional security issues. Domestically, in the post-Mao era, the country�s foreign policy has placed a premium on encouraging external conditions that will assist the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to maintain its �performance� legitimacy (i.e., its capacity to deliver continued economic growth, development, and security). This has informed China�s pursuit of economic and trade relationships with the Middle East, including investments in the region�s hydrocarbon resources, and counterterrorism cooperation. These systemic and domestic factors have thus begun to push Beijing towards a more ambitious agenda to shape regional dynamics in ways that are conducive to its interests.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of International Relations in the Middle East
    Editors Shahram Akbarzadeh
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherRoutledge
    Edition1st Edition
    ISBN (Print)9780415317283
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

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