“Over the Periphery of the Periphery: China in the Middle East and North Africa”, Erzsébet N.Rózsa (IWE CERS, Hungary)

The recent visit of the GCC Foreign Ministers to China, followed by that of the Iranian Foreign Minister, resulted in a new wave of analyses on China’s presence and role in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): either in the context of global power rivalry between the US and China and/or an eventual ‘alliance’ between Russia and China; or in Asian terms, the great game for connectivity.

The rapidly evolving Chinese presence in the MENA region may be so far mostly of an economic – and less of a political or military – nature, yet, accompanied by an ambitious cultural push forward in the form of the mushrooming Confucius Institutes as well as Chinese scholarships, and the intensive COVID-diplomacy, the question has increasingly been asked if and when would China be ready to challenge the US position in the region. In order to formulate a guess at the Chinese options, however, a few remarks should be made first.

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