Please join the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative and the Global China Hub on ThursdayMarch 17, from 9:00 am to 10:00 am ET, for an event on the approaches that China and Russia have adopted to develop their regional presence in MENA across four realms of influence: political, economic, security, and public diplomacy. The event will mark the launch of the report, Great Power Projection in the Middle East: The China-Russia Relationship as a Force Multiplier? by Jonathan Fulton, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and Li-Chen Sim, an assistant professor at Khalifa University in the UAE.

According to the authors, Russia and China are often mischaracterized as allies. Fulton and Sim explore the perception that their revisionist preferences for international order align, and that their desires for a less US-centered international order mean they are collaborating toward this end. In the report, the authors found that Russia’s more prominent security role in MENA augments China’s larger economic footprint; and that together they function as wedge strategies vis-à-vis US relations with traditional interlocutors in the region. There is, however, little evidence that China and Russia proactively coordinate their approaches in MENA.

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Jonathan Fulton

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Middle East Programs
Atlantic Council
Assistant Professor of Political Science in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

An expert on Chinese policy toward the Middle East, Fulton has written widely on the topic for both academic and popular publications. He is the author of China’s Relations with the Gulf Monarchies and co-editor of External Powers and the Gulf Monarchies. Fulton received his Ph.D. from the University of Leicester, where his dissertation focused on Chinese relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council member states. He also holds degrees from Staffordshire University, the University of Southern Queensland, and Dalhousie University.

Li-Chen Sim

Assistant Professor
Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Nonresident Scholar
Middle East Institute

Dr. Li-Chen Sim is an Assistant Professor at Khalifa University in the UAE. She holds a Ph.D. in Politics from Oxford and is a specialist in the political economy of Gulf and Russian energy and its intersection with domestic politics as well as international relations. Her interests include the politics of energy in the Gulf, Gulf-Asia exchanges, and Russia-Gulf interactions. Her latest book is Low Carbon Energy in MENA (Palgrave, 2021).

Moderated by

David O. Shullman

Senior Director, Global China Hub
Atlantic Council

David O. Shullman is senior director of the Global China Hub at the Atlantic Council, where he leads the council’s work on China. David’s own research focuses on China’s foreign policy and grand strategy, US-China relations, China-Russia relations, and the implications of China’s rise for global order and the future of democracy. Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, David was Senior Advisor at the International Republican Institute, where he oversaw the Institute’s work building the resilience of democratic governments and institutions around the world against the influence of China, Russia, and other autocracies. David served for nearly a dozen years as one of the US Government’s top experts on East Asia, most recently as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for East Asia on the National Intelligence Council (NIC) in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

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.

Global China Hub

The Global China Hub researches and devises allied solutions to the global challenges posed by China’s rise, leveraging and amplifying the Atlantic Council’s work on China across its 14 other programs and centers.

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.


Mar 16, 2022

Great power projection in the Middle East: The China-Russia relationship as a force multiplier

By Jonathan Fulton and Li-Chen Sim

The conflict is also likely to provide states in the MENA region, especially oil producing states, with greater leverage over the US and Western allies. The US designation of Qatar as a major non-NATO ally in January 2022 could be seen from this perspective

China Economy & Business