The region’s energy resources are also vital for China and its economy, with the fast growing population of the West Asia providing a potential key market for the Chinese products.
The region has increasing needs to boost its infrastructure, including the roads, production facilities, nuclear power plants, and housing. Such needs even proved crucial particularly in recent years. China has a production surplus and so holds advantages in these cases. Beijing leaders can work out an infrastructure and development diplomacy for their links to the region in a bid to address the West Asia’s future necessities.
However, beside these attractions of the region there are other realities, including the ongoing violence and political instability that can directly jeopardize the Chinese investments, decline of the governments as administrative bodies, as well as the religious radicalism that comes in form of Salafi terrorism. The extremism in the West Asia also emboldens radicalism of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China. The same threats to the Chinese territories also come from the neighboring countries of the Central Asia. In other words, China is seeing enlargement of its interests in the region but they are being increasingly threatened by some destabilizing factors.
On the other side, China faces the fact that the region is largely under influence of the two key actors, the US and Russia whose regional privileges come at a high price. Actually, Beijing not only is not seeking to replace the two powers in the West Asia but also it is not interested in risking its money through investment in the volatile region’s enterprises.
Furthermore, the American and Russian interventions to safeguard the shipping lanes and battle terrorism that is hitting the security across the region have been profitable to China. In fact, such interventions have cut the two powers’, particularly the US’s, ability to focus on the East Asia as Beijing’s backyard. Thereby, the powers’ presence regionally as part of the global big game proves of advantages for Beijing.
Accordingly, China’s West Asian role at the superpowers’ play field must be seen from a broader view that covers the trilateral Beijing, Washington, and Moscow interactions in many other global scenes. Considerable changes of the interactions have influenced the Chinese role in the West Asia. In fact, the growing US-Russia encounter in an array of hotspots like Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, and the East and South China Sea will reflect on the China’s West Asian activism.
These trends are actually heralding the new Chinese policy in the region that might show face in the future but in a different fashion from those of the US and Russia. They will come with Chinese features. Beijing will try to take advantage of the regional resources but stay away from superpowers’ game and other issues. It seeks pursuing its economic interests and strategies and avoid involvement in the West Asian crises, while the US and Russia are paying the cost of the regional security.
Generally, China’s West Asian policy is a reflection of the Beijing’s traditional policies which include limited intervention while struggling for regional toehold, avoiding engagement in Russian-American game, staying away from binding alliances with regard to the military weakness that stems from lack of regional military bases, and prioritizing business and long-term diplomacy. In short, the Chinese policy revolves around steering clear of trouble-making measures in the region.
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