Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Middle East and China – Freeman

SUSRIS - March 16, 2015 

Remarks to a Conference of the United States Institute of Peace and Georgetown University
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)
February 17, 2015 | Washington, DC [not delivered due to inclement weather]
The Middle East is where Africa, Asia, and Europe come together and where the trade routes between China, India, and Europe converge. It has two-thirds of the world’s energy reserves. It is also the epicenter of this planet’s increasing religious strife. Relationships between this strategically crucial region and the rest of the world are now undergoing a sea change. I have been asked to speak to you about China’s likely reactions and role in the region as this occurs.
By the Middle East, China means the mainly Arab and Persian-inhabited areas of West Asia and North Africa. The collapse of the post-colonial order there has coincided with China’s return to wealth and power. We in the West often include Central Asia in the Middle East. China does not. The Chinese see the post-Soviet state of affairs in Central Asia — in the mainly Turkic-speaking Muslim nations between China, Russia, and Europe — as developing satisfactorily within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). They are nowhere near as sanguine about their ability to manage trends and events in the Middle East.