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China-MENA Podcast

March 6, 2024

China’s Law of the Sea in the Middle East

By Atlantic Council


Key takeaways

  • China’s Maritime Expansion
  • Global Maritime Strategy
  • Maritime Capabilities and International Maritime Order
  • Naval Presence in the Middle East
  • Commercial Ports and Industrial Parks
  • Geopolitical Implications


00:00 – Introduction

07:08 – Disrupting Norms: China’s Impact on the International Maritime Order

11:17 – Probing Regional Responses to China’s Assertiveness

13:26 – Delving into China’s Emphasis on Sovereignty Concerns

18:42 – Shifting Tides: Increasing PLA Deployments and Global Dynamics

20:14 – Navigating Challenges: China’s Maritime Interests and Complexities

24:58 – The Precarious Balance: China’s Posture Changes and Potential Conflicts

28:05 – Strategic Stronghold: Djibouti’s Significance in Chinese Diplomacy

30:25 – Bridging the Divide: Chinese Perspectives on Overseas Actions

34:56 – Anticipating Support: Political and Security Pathways for China

39:50 – Economic Priorities: Balancing Development and Security in China

44:05 – Strategic Insights: Evaluating Military Missions and Facilities

45:27 – Tactical Transactions: Chinese Military Utilization of Commercial Spaces

47:49 – Outro

In this episode

Isaac B. Kardon
Senior Fellow For China Studies
Carnegie Endowment For International Peace

Isaac B. Kardon (孔适海) is a senior fellow for China studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Before joining Carnegie’s DC-based Asia Program in 2023, Isaac was an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, where he was a core member of the China Maritime Studies Institute. He studies Chinese foreign and security policy, specializing in maritime disputes, port development, overseas military basing, and China-Pakistan relations. His first book, China’s Law of the Sea: The New Rules of Maritime Order, was published by Yale University Press in 2023 and has been reviewed in Foreign Affairs, The Economist, and Foreign Policy.


Join us as we dive deep into China’s maritime dynamics with Isaac B. Kardon, a senior fellow for China studies in the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Isaac’s expertise in maritime disputes, global port development, and the People’s Liberation Army Navy activities sheds light on China’s evolving role in shaping international & MENA waters. Uncover China’s ambitions in global waters, from deep-sea mining to infrastructure development with dual-use functionality to achieve civil-military integration.

Tune in for an engaging discussion on China’s maritime might and its implications for the global order and the Middle East and North Africa.

Hosted by

China is heavily invested in transportation infrastructure due to its economic priorities as the world’s largest trading nation

Isaac B. Kardon

About the China-MENA podcast

The China-MENA podcast features conversations with academics, think-tankers, and regional specialists on Chinese Influence in the Middle East and informs US and MENA audiences in the policy and business communities about the nature of China’s outreach to the region.

At a time when China’s global footprint is getting deeper and deeper, it has never been more important to understand its foreign policy and the Middle East is one of the world’s most consequential regions: home to major religions, diverse cultural and social heritage, central to global energy markets, and of course, geopolitics, linking people and markets in Asia, Africa and Europe.  This show will help you understand what China is doing in the region, and how the region is engaging with China as an increasingly important external power.

Podcast series

Listen to the latest episode of the China-MENA podcast, featuring conversations with academics, government leaders, and the policy community on China’s role in the Middle East.

Recommended reading

Middle East Programs

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.

This podcast was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.

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Image: A Chinese Navy nuclear submarine takes part in an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province April 23, 2009. REUTERS/Guang Niu/Pool (CHINA POLITICS MILITARY IMAGE OF THE DAY TOP PICTURE)