New era Diplomacy of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Middle East

The discussion in the Middle East has become about: What can China offer to all the countries of the region? This was following the end of the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of China on October 16, 2022 in the capital, Beijing, and Chinese President Xi Jinping smoothly maintaining his position as supreme leader of the state for an unlimited number of periods, after which President “Xi” announced what is known as “diplomacy in  the new era”.  This means opening new fronts and relations for China in every country and region around the world, especially the Middle East. And because China is fully focused on developing countries, the Middle East for China is an ideal platform to spread its development model of President Xi Jinping’s thought, and to implement President Xi’s vision of what is known as “building a community with a shared future for mankind”. This is what China has shown in recent years, that it is no longer a secondary power in the Middle East, but rather has become a real major player in the region, with its readiness to engage on all fronts to achieve its interests.  We note the extent to which all countries in the Middle East benefit from the Chinese presence in it, without exception, in balancing their relations with Washington and the West, especially by using China as a bargaining chip in their dealings with the United States and Europe. The clearest example of this is the Gulf rulers bargaining with the United States and Europe to conclude deals on arms sales to their countries from Beijing as a substitute for them. Here, China is trying to compete with the United States for influence in the Middle East and North Africa. This was evident in the successful Chinese mediation in one of the region’s most complex disputes between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

 China is trying to enhance its own development strategy so that it integrates with the development strategies of every country in the region.  China is also trying to provide an alternative to the security and diplomatic hegemony of the United States of America in the Middle East. One of the manifestations of China’s expanding presence in the region is its insistence on becoming more involved in the areas of security and politics in the region, especially through the two initiatives (global security and the new security architecture for the Middle East), which are the two initiatives launched by Chinese President “Xi Jinping”. On June 24, 2022, Chinese President “Xi Jinping” presided over what is known as the high-level dialogue on (global development) via video conference, which was attended by leaders from 17 countries, including 3 leaders from the countries of the Middle East region, and they are the presidents: (the Algerian president  Abdel Majeed Tebboune, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi), where they all consulted with President “Xi Jinping” on development and cooperation plans and reached important and broad consensuses. On September 8, 2022, the (third session of the Chinese-Arab Forum for Reform and Development) was held, in which the meeting and discussions focused on (advancing the implementation of the global development initiative of Chinese President “Xi Jinping”), where the participants presented valuable opinions and proposals on (ways to enhance  Development cooperation between China and the Arab countries and work to build the Chinese-Arab community for a common future).

 Here, we find that the “Global Security Initiative” of Chinese President “Xi Jinping” is closely linked to the “Global Development Initiative” that “Xi” also launched in September 2021.  Which is based on the firm conviction of the Chinese leadership, that “development is the main key to solving all problems in the world”. There are  17 Arab countries expressed their support for President Xi’s “Global Development Initiative”, and 12 Arab countries joined it, forming the so-called “Global Development Initiative Friends Group”. My initiative (development and security) is the practical program of Chinese President “Xi Jinping” towards reshaping global governance, along with his clear call for “building a community with a shared future for mankind” and the Belt and Road Initiative.  This represents the greatest real benefit for all countries in the region from China and its role in the region.

 China also used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council more than 10 times to thwart Western initiatives against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. The Middle East and North Africa region is also criss-crossed by ports built or funded by China.  Everyone benefited from these Chinese development projects, especially with the increase in the volume of Chinese investments in the region through industrial complexes, ports and free trade zones led by China, linking east with west, from the Arabian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. 

  Recent years have also witnessed a continuous flow of Chinese diplomatic visits between the countries of the Middle East and China, through many international forums and trade fairs that bring together the two parties. In addition, China is increasingly cooperating with Middle Eastern countries in the field of non-traditional security. In addition to the joint efforts between China and all the countries of the region in combating the Corona pandemic and climate change issues, there has been an increase in joint training between China and the countries of the region on combating terrorism, and cooperation in the field of cyber and digital security, which was highlighted by (the cooperation initiative between China and the League of Arab States in  field of data security), which was signed in 2021.

 Here, reference must be made to (China’s new security system in the Middle East), which China announced on September 21, 2022, through its foreign minister and Chinese State Councilor at the time “Wang Yi”, at the second session of the “Middle East Security Forum” in the capital.  Beijing, under the title: “Building a New Security Structure in the Middle East.”  With the strong support of the China Institute of International Studies, under the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it invited more than seventy security figures from across the Middle East and North Africa, including state leaders and former diplomats. The second session of the China and the Middle East Security Forum bore the slogan of “Advancing the construction of a new framework for Middle East security and achieving common regional security”. During the opening session of the forum, Chinese State Counselor and Foreign Minister “Wang Yi” affirmed China’s keenness to seize the opportunity to implement the (Global Security Initiative) put forward by Chinese President “Xi Jinping”, to work with the countries of the Middle East and the international community to (push forward the construction of a new framework for security in the Middle East). China announced its proposal explicitly with regard to the security of the Middle East, through the proposal of its Foreign Minister “Wang Yi” consisting of (four points) to implement a new proposed Chinese strategy in (adhering to a new security concept) based on common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and consolidating the leadership position.  To the countries of the Middle East (instead of the players intruding on the region according to the Chinese expression), with the Chinese commitment with all the countries of the region to the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter, and to promote dialogue on regional security between China and the region with transparency.  This is the same as what Chinese President “Xi Jinping” put forward during his speech at the summit that brought China together with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in December 2022, by inviting President “Xi” to all regional countries to join the (Global Security Initiative), and his assertion that China and the “GCC countries”  Gulf states should be partners for their common security.  From my point of view, this is tantamount to real Chinese security involvement in the region.

  Based on the foregoing, we find that the diplomacy of Chinese President “Xi Jinping” in the new era after the 20th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China on October 16, 2022 in Beijing, is consistent with the vision of China and the joint Arab countries to advance multipolarity of international powers and democratize relations.  International affairs, working together to push for the establishment of a new, more just and democratic system, focusing on the call for respect for the Charter of the United Nations and other recognized rules in international relations, adhering to the principle of equal sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, and the right of all countries to equal participation in international affairs was great or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, coinciding with supporting the rights of all peoples to gain freedom, independence and sovereignty over all their lands in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.  Here we find that these visions, which reflect the prevailing demands of developing countries, have contributed to safeguarding the common interests of developing countries and strengthening the just cause of peace and development in the world with China in the new era.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit