Attractive Region for China: Middle East

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China, which has an important history in the history of civilization, succeeded in making its name known in the world economy with the development policies implemented in the economy after the end of the Cold War period in the early 1990s and it has become the world’s strongest economy after the United States of America (USA). With the motivation given by its economic power, the Beijing administration has tried to develop its relations with different geographies, giving importance to its foreign policy. Due to the reasons arising from its energy needs, it has turned to the Middle East region, where tensions are not lacking in its foreign policy relations and which is always among the targets of global powers.

As it is known, Deng Xiaoping, who came to power after Mao, brought many changes with him.Inherited from Mao, China had some successes with the Cultural Revolution, but left a bad economy to the next government. Setting goals to strengthen and develop its economy, China introduced the concept of quadruple modernization, which includes agriculture, industry, science and technology, and national defense, in order to achieve this at certain stages.Deng wanted to adopt the liberal economy model in China’s economic policies, but he was also worried about the consequences of this. For this reason, it managed its economic policies in an extremely slow and controlled manner.In this context, Deng has started to make China’s statist and closed economy open to the outside by slowly but surely turning it into a market economy.Therefore, a pragmatic understanding has been adopted since the benefit of China was taken into consideration in the decisions taken on behalf of the country’s economy during the Deng period.

As a result of giving priority to the Middle East in diplomatic relations realized in foreign policy, China started arms trade in the Iran-Iraq War and built its relations with Iran, which continues today, on solid foundations in this period.One of the most important reasons for the strong continuation of the relations between China and Iran is the Iran policy of the United States (USA).

Due to the increase in energy needs since the early 1980s, China has tried to improve its relations with oil-rich countries and gain the trust of these states.Although the oil agreements between China and Iraq became invalid after the US intervention in Iraq, new agreements were signed with the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government, which was established in Northern Iraq and In 1993, China became definitively an oil importer as a result of its diplomatic efforts.

Besides Arab countries, Beijing has also developed successful diplomatic relations with Israel, which was the first country to recognize China in the Middle East. Acting with a rhetoric that sided with the Arab countries in the Middle East in the early periods, China over time strengthened its relations with Israel in many fields, especially in agriculture, terms of access to technology it needs.Especially after Mao, thanks to Deng’s reformist approaches, the relations between the parties have gained increasing momentum and developed.

One of the important steps taken to strengthen the Middle East-China relations was the establishment of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum in 2004. In 2006, during the visit of King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to China, important agreements were signed between the two countries on energy imports. In this period, besides the development of economic relations between China and the Middle East, China within the scope of soft power; It has also carried out studies to become attractive in the Middle East in terms of both ideological, cultural and institutional factors.

On the other hand, the Arab Spring, which increased the tension in the Middle East and was an important turning point for the region, caused many countries, especially global powers, to change their foreign policies. Caught unprepared by the uprisings that took place with the Arab Spring, China adopted the principle of not interfering in the internal affairs of the states, as is the case with its foreign policy in general in its relations with the Middle East. Although the change of authoritarian governments after the uprisings and the role of the USA in the region worried China, China took an active part in the resolution of the problems in the Middle East region.

During the Syrian Civil War, it is possible to see the effects of China’s presence in the Middle East clearly. Especially after the end of the war, it is seen that China has come to the forefront with both humanitarian and economic agreements on behalf of the reconstruction of Syria.

In addition to all these, recently China; He made important diplomatic progress in his relations with the Middle East countries. For example, on the occasion of the LNG Agreement signed between China and Qatar on November 21, 2022, China has guaranteed its liquefied natural gas supply for 27 years. The resumption of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran on March 10, 2023 was welcomed by the countries of the region and further strengthened the relations between China and the Gulf states. Because the Beijing administration has undertaken the role of mediator in the normalization process.

As a result, since China aims to grow without disturbing any country in its foreign policy, it primarily aims to ensure that its energy supply is secure. Undoubtedly, the most important factors determining the relations of China’s foreign policy, which is the most important production center in the world, is the issue of meeting the need for energy and raw materials. For this reason, it is seen that Beijing focuses on developing and deepening its relations with Middle Eastern capitals.

Ayşe Süreyya PEKÇETİN
Ayşe Süreyya PEKÇETİN, İstanbul Üniversitesi İktisat Fakültesi Çalışma Ekonomisi ve Endüstri İlişkileri Bölümü mezunudur. Aynı zamanda PEKÇETİN, çift anadal kapsamında İstanbul Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nü de tamamlamıştır. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2011 yılında Marmara Üniversitesi İşletmecilik Anabilim Dalı’nda hazırladığı “hazırladığı “Serbest Bölgeler ve Nitelikli Sanayi Bölgelerinin İhracata Olan Katkılarının İncelenmesi” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. PEKÇETİN, doktora eğitimine İstanbul Gedik Üniversitesi Siyaset Bilimi ve Kamu Yönetimi Anabilim Dalı’nda devam etmektedir. PEKÇETİN, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.