China's New Silk Road Strategy

by Haiyun Ma , I-wei Jennifer Chang | published May 20, 2014 - 3:14pm

In the current issue of Middle East Report, we write about the strategic logic of China’s increasing investment in teaching Middle Eastern languages, particularly Arabic, Persian and Turkish. A key goal of the push for Middle Eastern language competency is to help rebuild the Silk Road that China stood astride in centuries past.

MER 270: China in the Middle East

by The Editors | published May 8, 2014 - 10:40am

For immediate release May 8, 2014

Middle East Report 270   Spring 2014

CHINA IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Region, Race and Some Ironies of History

by Cemil Aydin | published May 7, 2014 - 10:01am

In the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “China in the Middle East,” I write about the often forgotten history of political, intellectual and cultural ties between East Asia and West Asia (or the Middle East) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

China and the Sudans

Wars and Peaces

by Daniel Large
published in MER270

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. South Sudan and Sudan had agreed to share oil revenue, oil was flowing again and, despite considerable problems, relations appeared headed in a slightly better direction. Both governments were drawn to China as a key provider and practical enabler of economic assistance, a political partner and international ally. In early December 2013, South Sudan and China had made progress on negotiations about a package of support to expand a serious non-oil Chinese role. Then, on December 15, the irruption of violence in Juba and its rapid spread to other parts of South Sudan changed everything.

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The Moral Panic Over Chinese in Egypt

by Jessica Winegar
published in MER270

On a brisk autumn evening in 2010, male coffee shop patrons in the upscale Cairo neighborhood of Zamalek were treated to the sight of young Chinese women in miniskirts circulating to hand out brochures for a new massage parlor. It was an unusual sight indeed for Egyptian public space -- both the women’s attire and the presence of so many Chinese. Besides a small number of Chinese Muslim students at al-Azhar University, Chinese immigration to Egypt is a very new phenomenon.

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Arabs in Yiwu, Confucius in East Beirut

by Roschanack Shaery
published in MER270

The September 11, 2001 attacks marked the beginning of large-scale trade between the Middle East and mainland China in the modern era. New visa restrictions in the United States -- until then the number-one trading partner of Arab countries -- forced Arab merchants to find business destinations in various Chinese cities. Statistics attest to the intensification of Sino-Arab trade: In 2004, the volume was less than $36 billion but in 2011 it reached nearly $200 billion. The Chinese government’s goal is to boost trade to $300 billion in 2014.

DragonMart, the Mega-Souk of Today's Silk Road

by Jacqueline Armijo
published in MER270

In 1998, a shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Indonesia. It turned out to be the remains of an early ninth-century dhow from the Gulf that had been headed back from China with a cargo of over 70,000 items, primarily ceramics, produced in different Chinese regions. The goods varied in style and quality, and had clearly been custom-made for the different tastes of the major trading centers of the Gulf. Thousands of ceramic bowls and dishes had been neatly stacked into hundreds of large urns, which in turn had been arranged in several layers of rows along the bottom of the dhow.

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China's Strategic Middle Eastern Languages

by Haiyun Ma , I-wei Jennifer Chang
published in MER270

Though the People’s Republic of China has extensive commercial ties in the Middle East, its three strategic partners in the region are Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. It is not surprising, therefore, that the major Middle Eastern language programs in China today are Arabic, Persian and Turkish. The growth of Middle Eastern language and area studies in China has tracked with the changes in the political ties of the People’s Republic to the region.

Prospects for China's Expanding Role in the Middle East

by Kyle Haddad-Fonda
published in MER270

In the autumn of 2011, as the international outcry against Bashar al-Asad intensified, it was impossible for the government of China to avoid being drawn into the conflict in Syria. After China joined Russia in October of that year in vetoing a UN Security Council resolution condemning the brutality of the Asad regime, a series of demonstrations erupted throughout the Middle East. Many protesters reserved their strongest feelings for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who had become the most visible opponent of international intervention in Syria. Yet China, which up to that point had rarely inflamed such passions in the Arab world, was also a target of the demonstrators.

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