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China Still Not Seen as a Serious Political Actor in the Middle East, Explains Top Sino-Mideast Scholar

Smoke billows from the area of an Israeli air strike on the southern Lebanese village of Marwahin near the border with Israel on March 16, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. AFP

With yet another Chinese envoy touring the Mideast, many people are scratching their heads, wondering what Beijing is trying to accomplish with its diplomacy in the region.

Many Arab and Gulf governments see the Chinese as “the new kid on the block” and aren’t really taken seriously by most stakeholders in the region as a credible diplomatic broker, explained Jonathan Fulton, an associate professor of political science at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, and someone who’s widely regarded among the world’s top China-Mideast scholars.

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