China has often been seen as maintaining an aloof foreign policy in the Middle East. This chapter argues, however, that Chinaï¿½s approach to the Middle East has evolved over the course of the postï¿½Cold War era toward a more active approach. Informed by a neoclassical realist theoretical framework, the chapter argues that Chinaï¿½s 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-ï¿½-vis major regional security issues. Domestically, in the post-Mao era, the countryï¿½s foreign policy has placed a premium on encouraging external conditions that will assist the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to maintain its ï¿½performanceï¿½ legitimacy (i.e., its capacity to deliver continued economic growth, development, and security). This has informed Chinaï¿½s pursuit of economic and trade relationships with the Middle East, including investments in the regionï¿½s 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.
|Title of host publication
|Routledge Handbook of International Relations in the Middle East
|Place of Publication
|Published - 2019