Prospects for China's Expanding Role in the Middle East

by Kyle Haddad-Fonda
published in MER270

In the autumn of 2011, as the international outcry against Bashar al-Asad intensified, it was impossible for the government of China to avoid being drawn into the conflict in Syria. After China joined Russia in October of that year in vetoing a UN Security Council resolution condemning the brutality of the Asad regime, a series of demonstrations erupted throughout the Middle East. Many protesters reserved their strongest feelings for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who had become the most visible opponent of international intervention in Syria. Yet China, which up to that point had rarely inflamed such passions in the Arab world, was also a target of the demonstrators.

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Mao in a Muslim Land

by Kamran Asdar Ali
published in MER270

In the coming years, China is expected to invest some $18 billion in an “economic corridor” crossing Pakistan to the Arabian Sea at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The latest installment is the development of the Pakistani port of Gwadar. The port scheme is a strategic move linked to the restoration of Gwadar’s oil refining capacity. The plan is that China’s purchases of crude from the Middle East will be refined there before flowing to China by pipeline.

China has been Pakistan’s close economic and military ally since soon after the 1962 Sino-Indian war. But Chinese influence in South Asia has been ideological as well.

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Hadi al-`Alawi, Scion of the Two Civilizations

by Mohammed al-Sudairi
published in MER270

In the 1950s, the People’s Republic of China began to host a small community of Arab scholars and journalists, recruited mostly through “revolutionary” channels like the FLN, the PLO, and the Iraqi and Sudanese Communist Parties. These experts were brought to China with the explicit purpose of editing and translating texts, as well as providing Arabic-language instruction at Chinese media, propaganda and educational institutions. This select group included a number of writers and intellectuals, such as Kadhim al-Samawi, Hanna Mina, Sheikh Jalal al-Hanafi and Hadi al-‘Alawi, the last of whom left the deepest mark on twentieth-century Arab intellectual life.

The China-Africa Axis in Relation to Other Regional Axes

by Engseng Ho
published in MER270

China and Africa grosso modo are often seen as standing at two ends of the spectrum of developing countries, the former having acquired enormous industrial capacity in short order, and the latter not. In this view, a great potential for exchange exists between the two: manufactures and infrastructure in exchange for raw materials. Certainly the two do not exist in a vacuum; to think about how this potential may be realized in the coming decades, it is useful to think about them in the larger international arena.
 

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Muslim Activist Encounters in Meiji Japan

by Shuang Wen
published in MER270

As one of the political, commercial and intellectual centers of Asia, Japan at the turn of the twentieth century was an important arena for the intersection of ideas about modernism, nationalism and anti-colonial politics. Though Cairo, Istanbul and Mecca had long been the capitals of scholarship and cross-cultural interaction in the Islamic world, Meiji-era Japan was a site of key encounters between Muslims from China, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Drawn together by a common interest in Islamic revival and nation building that transcended linguistic and cultural differences, these activists established various Muslim organizations in Japan and saw Islam as a way to unify Asian peoples.

Changing Modes of Political Dialogue Across the Middle East and East Asia, 1880-2010

by Cemil Aydin
published in MER270

East Asia’s relationship with the Middle East today is based mainly on economics and is devoid of grand political projects of solidarity and intellectual dialogue. Countries such as China, Japan and Korea present the Middle East with a model of neoliberal economic development. At the same time, the redemptive transformation of East Asia from a Western-dominated region to a globally powerful one offers a trajectory of development diverging from the Middle East, which struggles with political turbulence, regime crises and regional wars both cold and hot.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER270

“Will China dominate the twenty-first century?” So asks the title of a short book by Jonathan Fenby, a British journalist who was editor of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post during the period when that bustling entrepôt was being transferred from British control to the sovereignty of the People’s Republic.

Chez Vous, Gitmo to Guangzhou

by Darryl Li | published May 2, 2014 - 12:47pm

We at MERIP are excited about the issue of Middle East Report on China and the Middle East coming out next week, featuring the work of two of my mentors, Engseng Ho and MER editor Cemil Aydın. The issue will address linkages between China and the region, from trade in oil and manufactured consumer items to ideological exchanges under the signs of Marx, Mao and Islam.

From the Editor

by The Editors
published in MER264

“In the last decade,” wrote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the November 2011 Foreign Policy, “our foreign policy has transitioned from dealing with the post-Cold War peace dividend to demanding commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. As those wars wind down, we will need to accelerate efforts to pivot to new global realities” -- namely, the growing strategic importance of Asia and the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

China and the Arabian Sea

by Philip McCrum
published in MER256

“As I speak,” said Khalid al-Falih, the chief executive of Saudi Aramco, in an address at Tsinghua University in Beijing in November 2009, “a tanker full of Saudi Aramco petroleum is passing a container ship laden with Chinese manufactured goods bound for the Kingdom’s ports.” As he went on to remind his audience, “Chinese industry and commerce depend on the reliable supply of our oil to fuel their factories, and we in turn use Chinese equipment and services in our fields and facilities to maintain our reliability.”