A quiet shift in geopolitics has been taking place, with East Asia and the Middle East drawing closer together. Energy trade explains part of this, as Japan, South Korea, and China are consistently among the largest export markets for Middle East oil and gas. In the case of China, the relationships have moved beyond economic interests to incorporate strategic concerns as well. The Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East report has released a new report by Dr. Jonathan Fulton on this subject: “China’s Changing Role in the Middle East.” The report analyzes China’s presence in the Middle East, examines the response of Middle Eastern states, and explores how US-China competition plays out in the region: are their interests compatible, creating opportunities for cooperation, or do they diverge to the point that competition is the most likely outcome?

On June 5, the Rafik Hariri Centerfor the Middle East convened a public event on opportunities for US-China cooperation and risks for US-China confrontation in the Middle East. National Security Council Senior Director for the Middle East Dr. Victoria Coates gave a keynote address outlining the Trump Administration’s views on this subject. This was followed by a panel discussion to mark the release of a Hariri Center report by Dr. Jonathan Fulton, assistant professor of Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, UAE based on his research across the region. The discussion also included a perspective from Dr. Degang Sun, a visiting scholar at Harvard University and deputy director of the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University in China.