Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Are Japan and China competing in the Middle East?

Yoram Evron, University of Haifa 

EAST ASIA FORUM - 28 April 2017   

Over the years, China and Japan have followed very different paths of involvement in the Middle East. The one policy that both countries have consistently shared though is steering well clear of the region’s politics and conflicts. This is starting to change.
China and Japan are both highly dependent on Middle Eastern energy sources and are interested in expanding their economic interests in this area. Both countries are also trying to strengthen their political stance in the region and become more involved in big power Middle East politics.
But are the two countries’ competing trajectories in the Middle East related to the broader Sino–Japanese rivalry?
At face value, competition over access to energy sources seems like the greatest source of Sino–Japanese competition in the Middle East, with a direct contest over the development of some oilfields already happening. But looking deeper, it does not seem like their decisions concerning investments and other economic activities in the Middle East’s energy sector are dominated by their confrontation elsewhere.