China’s Growing Role in the Middle East

Led by Ilaria Carrozza

Jun 2021 – Jun 2022

​At a moment when the US' long-standing dominance over the Middle East shows signs of decline and European policymakers debate the future of the Middle Eastern security architecture, China is seeking to deepen its ties with countries in the region. This project seeks to understand the consequences of China's engagement on the ongoing conflicts and fragile geopolitical balance. Its overall objective is to create new policy relevant and research-based information about China's interests in the Middle East, which can inform decision-making and public debate.

As is the case for China's involvement elsewhere, its approach is largely economically driven, and it tends to become involved in substantial security provision only in countries where it has high economic stakes. However, there are signs that China's attitude may be changing and that it may pursue a more proactive role. The emergence of a Chinese alternative—sometimes called the "developmental peace" model—highlights the need for current donors and investors, including Norway, to review their own practices and prepare for another security and development provider to enter the picture.

The project addresses the following research questions: 1) Do China's interests in the Middle East constitute a challenge to the predominant US order in the region?; 2) How is China's approach to regional conflicts changing and what role does the "developmental peace" model play?; 3) What are the consequences of the China-Russia strategic partnership for the Middle East?

The project team will address these issues by collecting and analyzing publicly available official policy documents, reports and news from Chinese and Arab sources.

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