Wednesday, 15 June 2011

US-China relations in the Middle East ...


OXFAN; excerpts;
"... China's increasing involvement in the Middle East represents the convergence of two major security concerns: security in the Pacific and energy security. Each problem set has its own specialists, its own disputes and its own dynamics, and the intersection between the two is an increasing preoccupation of analysts in Asia, in the Middle East and in the United States. The logic is for greater US-China bilateral cooperation. China and the United States both value regional stability and energy security, and each needs strong relations with the other. Yet, officials in China and the United States fear potential rivalry, while some in the Middle East perceive an interest in stoking such tensions. 
The key to bilateral regional cooperation is not to allow tension over Iran to define the relationship. Both countries have a strong interest in promoting energy security and counter-terrorism; these override differences over Iran.

Beijing's solidarity with status quo regimes in the region bolsters its strategic standing in the near term, but could ultimately backfire... ...

Bilateral tensions over Iran:
Iran will remain the most significant area of tension in the region between the two powers
Iran is a chief area of friction. Chinese officials hasten to reassure Western counterparts that they have never vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Iran. It is apparent that China doubts the efficacy of sanctions and maintains a robust trading relationship with Tehran regardless of Western efforts to isolate the country. However, Beijing's overall interest is in non-proliferation in the Gulf and a reduction of tensions, even if its implicit support for Iran undermines those goals. In point of fact, China seems reluctant to veto any Security Council resolution on its own, and Russian participation in tightening sanctions tends to bring China along.  
China and regional political change:  
Another area of friction is the current pattern of political change in the Middle East. China's interests are those of a status quo power, and many in Beijing see US support for protest movements as threatening China...While some in the United States complain that the US government has been tepid supporting political change in the Middle East, those moves have been enough to make the Chinese officials vigilant about the return of a post-Bush Freedom Agenda. Those officials have reassured their Saudi and Iranian counterparts that they do not support rapid political change, presumably in an effort to ingratiate themselves with energy suppliers. However, this approach has also alienated new governments such as Egypt, which resent China's support for the ancien regime... ... 
Chinese-constructed port concerns:  
Beijing's military profile in the region looks set to grow
A looming area of potential tension is China's role building port facilities in East Africa and South Asia, which are principally civilian but could also take on a military function. While the People's Liberation Army (PLA) seems genuinely committed to not establishing overseas military bases, China's international interests suggest a more global role for the Chinese military. Given the dominant global role of US troops, China's expansion will entail more military contact with the United States -- underlining the importance of confidence-building measures
'Free riding' fears:
US and Chinese interests in the Middle East are now at a crossroads. Without measures to align Chinese and US efforts, Washington will see China as benefitting from US security guarantees in the Middle East without contributing to them. This outcome would be bad for bilateral relations -- and would not work to China's advantage strategically. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's speech last week was a slap at European allies, with which the United States fundamentally shares goals, for such 'free riding'. Since China is seen so often as undermining US objectives in the region -- including, but not exclusively, with regard to Iran -- tensions over free riding could eventually become acute."

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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