China's Foreign Policy in the Middle East

By Javaid, Umbreen; Waheed, Meer | South Asian Studies, July 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

China's Foreign Policy in the Middle East


Javaid, Umbreen, Waheed, Meer, South Asian Studies


Introduction

By the turn of 21st century China has emerged as one of the fastest growing economic powers in the world (Ding & Knight, 2008). The country has been experiencing an exorbitant 10 percent growth for almost thirty years and within a period of fifteen years it became the largest export base of the United States with a 1600% rise in its exports to the world super power (Chris, 2010). Owing to such marvelous growth rates and matchless exports, china became a rising world power and hence received special attention from the global community (Paul, 2015) so much so that it is expected to surpass America as the largest, unrivalled economy in the world (PWC, 2009). The "Rise of China" notion was initially used by the Chinese scholar Yan Xvetong of Tsinghua University in a controversial book 'International Environment of China's Rise' published in 1998 and later on in an article by the same scholar titled 'The Rise of China in Chinese Eyes" published in "Journal of Contemporary China". Officially the term 'peaceful rise of China' appeared in the writings and speeches of ZhengBijian, a senior policy advisor to the Chinese government (Bijian, 2005). But the word 'rise of China' appeared provocative and entailed possible misinterpretation of the term and hence, was cautiously replaced by "peaceful development of China" by Hu Jintao in 2004 (Ashgate, 2006). In 2013 Xi Jinping at the 3rd study session of the politburo again avoided the term 'rise of China' when he reiterated the need for coordinating domestic and international strategic situation for ensuring China's continued journey on the 'peaceful development' road. thus, the notion of 'rise' is no more used in Chinese official documents and speeches (Suettinger, 2004).

Thus, official policy statements and outlook of China in dealing with the world is apparently in line with Deng Xiaoping's advice who counselled those at the helm of affairs in China as "to hide your brightness and bide your time" (Chris, 2010) and "to be very cautious and modest like a dog with its tail between its legs" (Xuetong, 2010).

These advises found their way into official foreign policy guidelines outlined in premier Li Peng's speech at the 96th Inter-Parliamentary Conference on September 19, 1996 quoted in the official website of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States of America that embodies the principles of equality of states, establishing friendly relations based on cooperation with all countries and striving to establish world peace and order.

In 2004, the same principles were echoed by of Wen Jiabao who outlined five "essentials" (yaoyi) of China's peaceful rise:

1. "It would involve taking advantage of world peace to promote China's development and safeguarding world peace through China's development;

2. It would be based on China's own strength and independent hard work;

3. It could not be achieved without continuing the "opening-up policy" and an active set of international trade and economic exchanges;

4. It would take several generations; and

5. It would "not stand in the way of any other country or pose a threat to any other country, or be achieved at the expense of any particular nation (Agency, 2004)"

The roots of this peaceful rise or development of China without hurting or threatening the interests of other states is attributed to the centuries old "Confucian ideals of benevolence (ren), forbearance (shu), trustfulness (xin), and equality (pingdeng) (Anshan, 2011)"

But the ideals propagated in the official texts, speeches and policy statements enshrining peaceful coexistence and benevolent foreign policy are highly contested and viewed with suspicion as one analyst puts it as "China's explanations for its foreign policy need to be viewed critically" (Verrall, 2015).

Such views can be found in the writings as early as of 1995 in an article by KiichiSaek who prophesied, "For the United States, only in another 20 years or more might China pose a serious military threat (Saeki, 1995)". …

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