China-Middle East relations

A handout picture made available by the Iranian Red Crescent on 19 August 2021, shows a young Afghan refugee at the Iran-Afghanistan border between Afghanistan and the southeastern Iranian Sistan and Baluchestan province, as people fleeing AFghanistan try to enter the Islamic republic following the takeover of their country by the Taliban earlier this week. (Mohammad Javadzadeh/Iranian Red Crescent/AFP)

What China wants to see under a Taliban-led Afghanistan

Chinese academic Fan Hongda says that following the US troop pullout of Afghanistan, the Taliban have much to do to convince the international community that they can lead the country, and that they can rebuild Afghanistan. Will Taliban rule be any different this time round as compared to 20 years ago? How would China react to the new ruling power in Afghanistan?
Taliban fighters sit on a vehicle along the street in Jalalabad province, Afghanistan on 15 August 2021. (AFP)

Inroads for China in a Taliban-led Afghanistan?

With the US in retreat and the Taliban seizing control of Kabul, it looks like Afghanistan and the region will see major security and geopolitical shifts. Where does China stand in all of this and what cautious moves will it make?
People wearing face masks walk past a mural displaying Iran's national flag in Tehran, Iran on 17 June 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Chinese academic: Can China challenge the US’s standing in the Middle East?

Although China has made inroads into the Middle East as a major investor and economic partner, some are suspicious of its intentions in being all things to all countries in this fractious region. Thus, even if there is much hype about its ability to take over the US’s role in the region, China should remember that it still lacks the power and wherewithal to exert a major influence.
A Palestinian girl plays amidst the rubble of buildings destroyed by last month's Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Palestinian enclave on 19 June 2021. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

China needs to reset its approach to the Palestinian issue — fast

From its biased stance towards Palestine in the recent Gaza-Israel conflict and the way it has tried to bring in the Xinjiang issue, it is clear that China is getting its approach to Palestine and Israel all wrong, says Fan Hongda. Amid a vastly changed political landscape in the Middle East, China needs to recalibrate its strategy. Otherwise, not only will it have little influence in the Gaza-Israeli conflict, it will end up on the back foot in defending its affairs in Xinjiang.
Iranians drive down a street in the capital Tehran, on 11 April 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

China-Iran deal complements the BRI, but faces Iranian domestic opposition and US sanctions

The recently signed China-Iran Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement will be a linchpin for China’s BRI in the Middle East, says Yu Hong. In the best-case scenario, it will be a win-win arrangement, providing Iran with the foreign investment it needs and China the oil supply and strategic influence it hopes to get. However, a number of challenges stand in the way including US sanctions and domestic opposition within Iran.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi bump elbows during the signing ceremony of a 25-year cooperation agreement, in Tehran, Iran, 27 March 2021. (Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Chinese academic: China-Iran deal will benefit China, Iran and Middle Eastern countries in the long run

A 25-year cooperation agreement was signed recently between China and Iran. The West and countries in the Middle East are alarmed by what closer China-Iran ties could mean for their interests, while the Iranians and the Chinese have different reactions to the news. Fan Hongda weighs the pros and cons of the agreement and what it means for all its stakeholders.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (second from right) and national security adviser Jake Sullivan (right) speak with Politburo member and director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi (second from left) and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) at the opening session of US-China talks at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, US, 18 March 2021. (Frederic J. Brown/Pool via Reuters)

Are two camps forming around China and the US?

As China-US competition continues, economics professor Zhu Ying observes that two camps seem to be emerging. But it is not so straightforward as one camp being pro-US and another pro-China. The trilateral relationships of the US-EU-China and China-US-Russia will create pendulum swings.
Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China and its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, in Istanbul, Turkey, 1 October 2020. (Murad Sezer/REUTERS)

How terrorism against China in the Middle East could develop

In a recent study conducted by the Central European Institute of Asian Studies and the National University of Singapore Business School, four key scenarios were plotted out with regards to possible terrorism-related threats against China in the Middle East. The findings show that China’s level of investment in the region as well as the stability of local regimes will play deciding roles in determining the severity of the threat. What policy options does China have? Barbara Kelemen and Alex Fergnani have the details.
People make their way along a street in the old quarters of New Delhi on 7 August 2020. (Jewel Samad/AFP)

China in the Gulf: India overmatched but undaunted

Based on history, culture ties and the flow of people throughout the Indian subcontinent, Persia and Arabian peninsula, India has had a natural advantage over China in engaging the Gulf. But in recent years, this seems to be no more. A reported partnership between China and Iran worth some US$400 billion over 25 years is just the latest in a string of footholds China is carving out in the region. India is realistic enough to know it is unwise to embark on a geopolitical competition with Beijing in the Gulf. Rather, it will play to its own strengths, says Professor C. Raja Mohan, director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at NUS.