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China-MENA Podcast February 20, 2024

Middle East Instability: A Chinese Perspective to the Latest Flashpoint

By Atlantic Council


Key takeaways

  • Chinese View of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
  • Testing US Hegemony in the Middle East
  • Overlapping Interests with the United States   
  • Middle Eastern Actors’ Diversification of Partnerships
  • Concerns About Regional Stability and Conflict


00:00 – Introduction

00:26 – Analyzing China’s Role in the Middle East – Insights from an Expert

04:28 – China’s Collaboration in Belt and Road Development

08:38 – Exploring China’s Growing Involvement in Middle Eastern Affairs

12:44 – Spotlight on Current Middle East-China Relations

16:01 – The Rising Importance of the Middle East

18:42 – Examining US-Israel Goals, China’s Concerns, and Global Impact

20:46 – Chinese Leaders’ Perspectives on a US-Centered Middle East

24:07 – Unpacking China’s Presence in the Middle East and Its Implications

27:44 – Proxy Warfare, Non-State Actors, and China’s Dilemma Summarized

30:57 – Major Powers’ Engagement with Armed Groups

35:26 – China’s Preference for Bilateral Relations in the Middle East

39:58 – Debating the Interpretation of China’s Regional Cooperation Proposal

41:19 – Seeking Flexibility: China’s and Middle East’s Mutual Goal

44:25 – Conclusion

In this episode

Chuchu Zhang
Associate Professor, International Relations
Deputy Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Fudan University

Chuchu Zhang is an associate professor of international relations in the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University. She is also deputy director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Fudan University. Chuchu received her PhD in politics and international studies from the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on Middle Eastern politics, Sino-Middle Eastern relations, and regional governance.


In this episode of the China-MENA Podcast, titled “Middle East Instability: A Chinese Perspective to the Latest Flashpoint,” our host Jonathan Fulton and Shanghai-based guest expert Chuchu Zhang explore China’s evolving response to the ongoing instability in the Middle East—including the attacks in the Red Sea and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict— and how they could test US hegemony in the region.

Join us to gain valuable insights into Chinese leaders’ perspectives on a US-centered Middle East and the current Chinese dilemma in the region.

Hosted by

There are common interests promoting peace, but it’s not a comprehensive solution to all problems. Yet, there is another perspective on promoting peace through development

Chuchu Zhang

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.

Related Experts: Jonathan Fulton

Image: Oil tanker Marlin Luanda has caught fire 60 nautical miles southeast of Aden in Yemen after a missile attack by Houthi fighters based in Yemen on Jan 26, 2024. The ship's owner, Trafigura, said the Marlin Luanda was struck by a missile as it transited the Red Sea on Friday. Houthi brigadier general Yahya Saree called the Marlin Luanda a British tanker and said the attack was in support of the oppressed Palestinian people and in response to the American-British aggression against our country. Indian Navy photo handout taken from INS Visakhapatnam via EYEPRESS