In recent years, the People’s Republic of China has significantly increased its economic and diplomatic engagement with the Middle East. Most of Beijing’s investment in the region focuses on energy, infrastructure construction, nuclear power, new energy sources, agriculture, and finance. These investments serve not only China’s interests but also those of Middle Eastern countries hoping to boost their economies as a means of strengthening social stability.
Outside the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East is likely the most critical region in the world for China, connecting it to the Mediterranean and Europe. It is a critical source of much-needed energy resources and an area of expanding economic ties. In turn, Middle Eastern countries see Beijing as the most important world capital after Washington because of China’s considerable economic power.
China’s policy toward the Middle East is necessarily defined within a complex regional context that involves a multitude of local rivalries enmeshed with serious great power competition. The Chinese policy is to maintain a balance among several priorities that are at times in conflict. These priorities are to: