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China’s Conflict Management in the Middle East: Involvement  without Impact?

İrem Aşkar Karakır


China’s foreign policy toward the Middle East has traditionally been shaped by its national interests based on energy security, arms exports, and technology transfers. To complement its interest-driven regional policies, China has expanded its diplomatic contacts and promoted cultural ties. Over the last two decades, China has also engaged in conflict management in several regional issues, despite its declared commitment to nonintervention in other countries’ domestic affairs. This article aims to analyze China’s conflict management policies in the region, focusing on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Iran’s nuclear program and the Syrian conflict. Compared with other major external powers, prospects for China’s conflict management seem high given two significant advantages. First, unlike Western powers or Russia, China has not left any bitter taste in the region associated with colonialism, religious or historical engagement. Secondly, China has been careful not to take clear-cut sides in regional conflicts, making itself an ideal candidate to act as an honest broker. It is argued that despite these advantages, Chinese conflict management in the region has remained considerably modest and lacked any practical solutions to the critical problems.

Keywords: China, Middle East, conflict management, Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Iran’s nuclear program, Syrian conflict

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pp. 240–257