Asia Europe Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 283–296 | Cite as

Time to up the game? Middle Eastern security and Chinese strategic involvement

  • Hai Yang
Original Paper


In view of the resources invested by China in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the geopolitical-security dynamics at play, it is helpful to examine the notable security risks and uncertainties of the project. Embedded in this broad context, the paper at hand zooms in on one of the world’s most volatile regions—the Middle East, situated strategically at the juncture of the overland and seaborne routes. Substantively, it focuses on the security dynamics in the region and China’s current engagement therein, with a view to assessing whether and the extent to which China will boost its strategic presence in the BRI context. Some conclusions can be drawn from the research. First, the Middle East faces a multiplicity of security risks and challenges, compounded by a problematic existing security architecture based on inadequate cooperation among regional actors and questionable ad hoc interventions by major outside powers. Second, China’s current relations in Middle Eastern countries have been overwhelmingly economic and driven by energy. Its political-security presence, albeit growing, remains marginal. Third, given the imperatives for China to play a more substantial role in Middle Eastern security (not least the need to ensure the BRI’s security) and the risks/costs of doing so, it would make sense that China seeks to step up its game in areas that are conductive to stabilising the region and yet do not entail intensively investing strategic resources and publicly taking sides (e.g. infrastructure and conflict mediation). This offers reasonable prospect of further EU-China cooperation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leuven International and European Studies InstituteUniversity of Leuven (KU Leuven)LeuvenBelgium

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