Mohmad Waseem Malla
Dr. Malla is a research scholar at the Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
This article critically examines the configurations of China's approach to the Middle East, in general, and the Iran-Saudi Arabia axis, in particular. China's traditional practice has been to secure its national interests in economic terms while maintaining a critical distance from the domestic affairs of its partner countries. But lately, with changing geopolitical dynamics in the region, the scope of Beijing's engagement with these states has transformed as well. Though the basic contours of the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia are geopolitical in nature, it is chiefly driven by sectarian and other identity markers, with the potential of dragging other countries to their respective sides. The article argues that, as China multiplies its regional engagements to ensure energy security for its rapidly expanding economy and international profile, the ever-changing geopolitical realities will likely make Beijing's political role inevitable and therefore preclude a balanced approach toward Iran and Saudi Arabia.
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