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Move Over, Please: China Increases Influence in US-Dominated Middle East

© AP Photo / Andy WongIn this Nov. 7, 2012 photo, US and Chinese national flags are hung outside a hotel during the U.S. Presidential election event, organized by the US embassy in Beijing
In this Nov. 7, 2012 photo, US and Chinese national flags are hung outside a hotel during the U.S. Presidential election event, organized by the US embassy in Beijing - Sputnik International
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China is gradually increasing its economic, political and diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, a region mostly dominated by the United States in recent years. According to expert Stanislav Tarasov, Beijing wants its own independent policy in the region.

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Earlier this week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited China and held talks with the Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jinping, to discuss solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

During his talks with Xi, Abbas expressed hope that China would play a greater role in peaceful efforts in the Middle East. It turn, the Chinese leader reaffirmed China’s support and confirmed Beijing’s commitment to a two-state solution.

Xi also proposed to establish a trilateral dialogue mechanism, involving China, Palestine and Israel to support and develop peaceful efforts in the region.

China’s engagement in the conflict between Palestine and Israel reflects a broader trend in Beijing’s foreign policy.

Ji Kaiyuan, a senior expert at the Southwest University of China, said that in recent years China has emerged as one of the key players in the global arena and thus has the intention and obligation to participate in the peaceful settlement of conflicts.

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"As a member of the UN Security Council and the world’s second-largest economy, China has the potential to implement various initiatives to find a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the same time, such an effort will increase China’s global influence," Ji told Sputnik China.

Stanislav Tarasov, a political analyst and specialist in Middle Eastern studies, underscored that Chinese leader Xi Jinping "made a strong political move" towards boosting Beijing’s political and economic influence in the Middle East.

"The Israel-Palestine conflict is just an example. Other regional countries will also try to involve China in settlement efforts. They have their own interests, and China is now entering the Middle East with its own interests," Tarasov told Sputnik China.

According to the expert, Beijing’s priority goal is to expand its economic presence in the Middle East.

"The US has reduced its economic influence in the region, but continues to keep a military presence. China has a lot of money and needs new destinations for investments. This gives Beijing a serious advantage. As a result, Middle Eastern countries will have to turn their foreign policy from the US towards China," Tarasov pointed out.

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He said that this foreign policy re-orientation "will take decades" but Middle Eastern countries already can "play the Chinese card" while bargaining with the US or Europe.

"They understand that they will have to attract resources from China for their own interests," Tarasov concluded.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry indicated Wednesday that Beijing is ready to undertake joint actions with the regional partners to find ways for a political settlement of the Libyan crisis.

"China is ready to continue promoting a political settlement in Libya together with the regional partners," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after talks with his Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui.

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