Sunday, September 18, 2016

Need growing for China to take greater military role in Middle East, analysts say

Greater presence seen as way to protect nationals working abroad and growing investment in the region

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sunday, 18 September, 2016

As China expands its interests in the Middle East, some experts are calling for Beijing to eschew its long-standing policy on non-interference in other countries’ affairs and set up permanent military bases.
A more comprehensive engagement would ensure better protection for Chinese nationals working in the region and the significant investment by Chinese companies there, they said.
Until recently, Beijing’s foreign policy in the Middle East has been overwhelmingly concerned with building relationships with governments while avoiding any overt demonstrations of influence. But that reluctance is fading.
In January, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia and Iran when the two nations broke off diplomatic ties, in a bid to stay friendly with both sides on the Sunni-Shiite divide. He brought with him US$55 billion in loans and investments for the region, including a US$20 billion fund for the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.