Will Beijing Expand in the Middle East at Washington’s Expense?

By: : LTC Ali AL-Kaabi, UAE Air Force, US Central Command: Strategy Plans and Policy Directorate; Combined Strategic Analysis Group
04 June 2021


Backed by one of the fastest growing economies in the world, China has publicly announced its desire to become a superpower and overtake the US by 2049. To achieve this goal, China has considerably increased its global activities. These activities are economic, political, diplomatic, and military in nature. The resource-rich Middle East region is a key Chinese gateway to Europe and Africa. China has therefore increased its activities and operations in the region. China has given significant attention to developing countries in the Middle East. China leverages these countries’ extensive needs to establish a firm position, then becomes an important and irreplaceable partner.

This paper discusses whether Beijing is expanding in the Middle East at the expense of Washington. This document will also analyze how the Chinese gradually encroach on a country, China’s plan of action in the Middle East, China’s regional economic interests and achievements, and the Chinese approach to the Palestinian issue.

Key Points:

  • The resource-rich Middle East region is a key Chinese gateway to Europe and Africa.
  • China is determined to compete and outdo the US, and become the world’s greatest superpower.
  • Increased relations, and newly executed agreements expanding Chinese-GCC economic partnership, threaten the strong US position in the Middle East, specifically with KSA.
  • Egypt’s tendency to diversify its supply of armaments to the largest exporting countries appears to be spreading. Thus, some regional powers no longer view the US as the unique partner of choice, but still a major partner.
  • Gulf States completing US military deals that deter threats to energy sources warns Iran about the concerted action and an alliance against it.
  • China seeks to undo US Middle East dominance by establishing regional control through either trade ties or leveraging financial crises.
  • During financial crises, China offers cheap loans with seemingly flexible repayment terms. Nations agree to the financial aid but often fail to repay then fall under Chinese domination.
  • China’s offer to host peace talks between Israel and Palestine is both a message to the US, and Beijing’s move to involve itself deeply in Middle East issues.

Read the complete paper here.

The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of a number of international officers within the Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG) and do not necessarily reflect the views of United States Central Command, not of the nations represented within the CSAG or any other governmental agency.