Asia
Op-Ed

Between Opportunity and Unpredictability: China’s Middle East in the Biden Era

The new US administration's swift reversal of some of its predecessor's policies in the Middle East is a source of optimism for Beijing, which cautiously hopes Biden's steps will eventually benefit Chinese interests in the region.
Part of the Chinese Foreign Policy Project
China
By Yun Sun  ·  Dr. Gedaliah Afterman

This article was originally published in the Arena.

The new US administration’s swift reversal of some of its predecessor’s policies in the Middle East is a source of optimism for Beijing, which cautiously hopes Biden’s steps will eventually benefit Chinese interests in the region. In the meantime, Beijing’s “Vaccine Diplomacy” is received with open arms by many Middle Eastern countries, though others remain hesitant. US-China tensions, ultimately, are not likely to subside, and Israel – increasingly caught between their conflicting interests in the region – will need to navigate these rough waters better than it has so far.

China has become increasingly active in the Middle East over the past decade following the Arab Spring. Its approach to the region gravitates between a sense of opportunity to expand its reach and influence and a wariness of its inherent instability. While its footprint in the region is undoubtedly increasing, it always calculates its steps with the U.S in mind. The new administration of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has reversed course on many of its predecessor’s foreign policies, including in the region. These will affect Beijing’s approach in the upcoming years.

In his first major foreign policy speech at the State Department on February 4th, Biden described China as the “most serious competitor” the United States is currently facing – a position shared by most of the American political system. Indeed, the new administration will need to carefully consider China as it devises its foreign policy, including in the Middle East.

Read the full article in the Arena.

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