China’s Rise in the Middle East

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January 21, 2020

China’s Rise in the Middle East

China’s Rise in the Middle East

The importance of the Persian Gulf is unlike any other waterways in the globe. The Persian Gulf, which is also known as the Arabian Gulf, is considered the heart of the Middle East, and there is no other similar body of water which is in the limelight and featured in the news as well as become subject to documentaries in the last few decades. The best route for transporting oil, the Persian Gulf is packed with a lot of tension between countries and rivalries; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its allies in the West Shore whereas the Islamic Republic of Iran on the East Shore makes the gulf geographically – economically as well as politically important.

The United States and Russia are considered regional honchos, and Russia is still powerful and influential in the area where the United States remains a key player. The wealth from the oil and weapons trade is important for the economies of both nations. As former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said, “Whoever controls the flow of Persian Gulf oil has a stranglehold; not only on our economy but also on other countries of the world as well”. Even though China is considered a rising superpower and the world’s second-largest economy – China didn’t play any key roles in the area – China didn’t have any influence on the area compared to the United States, Russia, Germany, and the U.K. But things are taking a different diversion in the current scenario: this is where  China’s new mega-project Silk Route enters the picture.

As part of the Silk Route, China is constructing two major big ports near the entrance of Hormuz Strait, which links the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean and through which ships and other watercraft enters the world’s busiest maritime international trade (shipping) route. In a geopolitical and economical aspect the new ports in Qwader, Pakistan and Sur, Oman provides many advantages to the trade in the region; not only financially stable, well-administered country Oman, but also less invested, a financially insecure country like Pakistan gain benefits from the Silk Route Project. As Pakistan is a lower-middle-income country it is difficult to repay the debt to China in their financial aid and their investments which paves their complete dominance over the port as large leasehold tenure, like in Hambantota, Sri Lanka. Even though it may lead to a gradual opening of military bases in the region while considering the geographical importance and the role of the Persian Gulf as a check post entering and leaving the landmass are the factors that drive China to invest in the region.

As far as analyzing the diplomatic strategies and operation execution of China – the Chinese way of managing the investments in South America and Africa – they are planning for a direct opening into the region by constructing roads and railways to the Indian Ocean.  While considering their tensions with Vietnam, Philippines, and India they need to develop such infrastructure which helps their dominance and acceptance in the region. The Qwader will be the nearest port from Western China and the best possible way of opening of road/railway and also Qwader is considered as a major port in the maritime silk route too; Qwader is important for china for their trade with Europe through which they can compete with diplomatic conflicts with India and make their way smoother to enter in Europe which helps them in U.S – China trade war. The opening of the Persian gulf Hormuz Strait is near to the new port which is under construction and it will help China to play a vital role in the Middle East as well as international trade.

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