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Stig Stenslie

Stig Stenslie  is assistant director general and head of the Asia Division of the Norwegian Defence Staff. He has held visiting fellowships at, among others, the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies in Oslo, the National University in Singapore and Columbia University in New York. He hold...
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China debates its future role in the Middle East

Stig Stenslie, 30 June 2014

China will be considerably more dependent on oil imports in the coming years because its growth in consumption far exceeds domestic production. As result of this growing energy demand the country will inevitably be more reliant on the Middle East. Despite the absence of an overall long-term strategy, there is no shortage of debate about China’s future role in the Middle East, although the debate is more about the relationship with the U.S. than anything else. Two opposite views appear: on the one hand, it is claimed that the U.S. position in the Middle East is weakening and that Beijing should adopt a more assertive approach to strengthen Chinese influence in the region. The alternative argument is that the Chinese government should maintain its current cautious approach, avoid contesting the U.S. hegemony, and let the U.S. war machine bleed to death in the troubled region. So far, China has benefitted from its low-key approach to the Middle East. Beijing will most likely try to maintain this policy; however, this might become increasingly difficult as its economic involvement in and dependence on the region becomes more complex.

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