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China's Role in the Middle East

Hosted by the China Studies Program and the Institute of Current World Affairs

Keynote: Kent Calder, Director of Asia Programs and Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS

Naser al-Tamimi (from Doha), independent UK-based Middle East researcher, political analyst, and commentator
I-wei Jennifer Chang, Program Specialist in the China Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace
Joshua Eisenman, Senior Fellow for China Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council
Chaoling Feng, Senior Research Associate, KNG Health
Sarah Kaiser-Cross (from Dubai), private finance based in Dubai
Moderator: Fadi Mansour '15, Al-Jazeera Media Network
Camille Pecastaing, Senior Associate Professor of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS
Robert Sutter, Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the Elliott School of George Washington University

December 2, 2016

China has recently been ramping up its outreach and activity in the Middle East. What are Beijing's goals and how does it aim to achieve them? The Institute of Current World Affairs co-sponsored a conference at the school's Washington, DC campus to explore these topics. The half-day event featured discussions on China’s present and future involvements in the Middle East, in the realms of regional insecurity as well as the cultivation of strategic partnerships.

In his keynote speech, Professor Kent Calder emphasized that China’s rise has consequently made it an important actor in the region. He described the historical dimensions of China’s activities in the Middle East, and proceeded to discuss the energy dynamics driving China’s present-day interests. He also emphasized the existence of sovereign wealth funds in China and key countries in the gulf region as an important financial incentive for deepening interdependence into the future. Finally, Calder concluded by highlighting China’s potential role in the security and governance dynamics, especially if the United States takes a less proactive approach in years to come.

The first panel discussion at the event was regarding China’s approach to regional instability in the Middle East. The second panel discussion focused on China’s strategic partnerships in the region, relating to energy, infrastructure, and economic interdependency. Both panels featured experts on China and the Middle East from Johns Hopkins SAIS, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the United States Institute of Peace, George Washington University, KNG Health Consulting, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

Video available at

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