At the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, Beijing will step up its involvement in the Middle East. shannon-tiezzi
By Shannon Tiezzi
The Diplomat - June 04, 2014
On June 5, the sixth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab
Cooperation Forum (CACF) will open in Beijing. This year’s meeting will
also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the CACF, which was
created in 2004 during then-President Hu Jintao’s visit to the Arab
League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. The CACF provides a formal dialogue
mechanism between China and the Arab League, which includes 21 member
states from the Middle East and North Africa. Foreign ministers from 19
of these countries plan to be in Beijing for this week’s forum, according to CCTV.
China’s turn toward the Middle East in some ways is the mirror image
of the U.S. pivot to Asia. The U.S. pivot comes as Washington turns away
from a decades-long fixation on the Middle East and its surrounding
regions. China, meanwhile, has a vested interest in the area for the
same reason the U.S. does: oil. China is already the largest importer of
Persian Gulf oil, and will soon be the largest importer from OPEC
as a whole (if it hasn’t already passed the U.S. in that category).
China’s vital energy interests in the region have given it reasons to
take a larger interest in regional security, especially as the U.S.
turns its focus elsewhere.