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China-MENA Podcast May 19, 2022

Chinese Multilateralism in MENA

By Atlantic Council


Key takeaways

  • An overview of the Book: China’s Rise in the Global South
  • Elaborating the 2 cooperation forums which China is associated with: China-Africa and the China Arab States
  • China’s relationship with non-Arab countries such as Iran, Israel, and Turkey
  • Mutual political support and interests between China and the Arab World
  • The upcoming forums of China with Middle East nations
  • New forms of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Digital Silk Road and Health Silk Road
  • The Two Chinese Envoys: Middle East issues envoy and the Africa issues envoy
  • How should the US interact with the increasing influence of China in the region

Special terms mentioned in this Episode

  • CASCF – The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum
  • FOCAC – Forum on China–Africa Cooperation
  • PRC – People’s Republic of China
  • SCO – Shanghai Cooperation Organization
  • Global South –   refers broadly to the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
  • JCPOA – The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
  • BRI – Belt and Road Initiative


[00:00] Introduction
[02:44] An Overview of Dawn’s Book
[08:33] The Forums: China-Africa Forum and China-Arab Forum
[16:29] Results and Outcomes from the China-led Forums
[20:01] China’s relations with Turkey, Iran, and Israel
[30:52] China-Arab Political Support and Interests
[33:28] The upcoming Forums of China with Middle East Nations
[37:44] New Forms of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
[40:44] An Overview of China’s Envoy to the Region
[45:53] US reacts to the Increasing Influence of China
[50:01] Conclusion

In this episode

Dr. Dawn Murphy
Associate Professor of International Security Studies
US Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base

China has been establishing itself as an economic player in the MENA region by not engaging in any complicated political issues. However, in recent years, China has been increasingly involved in political affairs. They have been engaging with the Arab states as well as the North African countries.

In this episode, we are joined by Dawn Murphy, an associate professor of international security studies at the US War College, Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama to discuss China’s approaches and outreach to the Middle East and North Africa via multilateral institutions and mechanisms. Dr. Muphy’s new book, China’s Rise in the Global South: The Middle East, Africa, and Beijing’s Alternative World Order, can be purchased here.

In this episode, Jonathan and Dr. Murphy discuss the forums with which China is affiliated, as well as the goals and objectives of those forums. They look at China’s connections with non-Arab nations including Turkey, Iran, and Israel, and China’s envoys, the Middle East Envoys, and Africa’s envoys. Finally, Fulton and Murphy address how the US should think about China’s growing influence in the MENA region and how the US should interact with China as a competitor.

Hosted by

“China is not attempting to change the distribution of territory in the Middle East or Africa, as its power grows, it is increasingly competing with the US.”

Dawn Murphy

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

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.

Further reading

Related Experts: Jonathan Fulton

Image: United Arab Emirates State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Hussein Al Shaali listens between the Arab League flag (L) and the Chinese one during a news conference at the end of the Sino-Arab cooperation forum in Beijing June 1, 2006. REUTERS/Lucas Schifres/Pool (CHINA)