A new player in the Middle East: China

Both the Chinese head of the State and head of the government have turned out to be in the Middle East at the same time; presidents of Iran and Egypt, without a preliminary agreement, support the strengthening of China’s role in Middle-Eastern affairs. Today, chairman of the Chinese People’s Republic, Jiang Ze Min, returned to Beijing from Iran, where he has been since April 19; tomorrow, the prime-minister of Chinese State Council will return to Beijing from Egypt, where he has been since April 19. According to official information about the negotiations carried out by the high Chinese “duet” in the two key countries of the region, the main subject was economic cooperation (in Iran, China even intends to assist in building a metro; however, it has not made progress in this field on its own territory). Though, against the background of today’s Middle-Eastern crisis, foreign policy is certainly a subject of the visits.

In Cairo, the question was about “strategic cooperation” between Egypt and China, which Hosni Mubarack called “the most reliable friend” of his country. Both in Iran and in Egypt, Chinese leaders with their partners unanimously condemned Israel's incursions into the Palestine. In conversations between Iranian leaders and Jiang Ze Min, it was especially stressed that any military actions against Iraq would be inadmissible.

“Although China supported the "war on terrorism" that was launched by the US after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, it is against its expansion, - Reuters writes. In February, President Bush did not manage to secure China’s consent not to export military technologies to the nations hostile to the US, especially to the countries qualified as the “Axis of Evil” – Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.”

Indeed, China is now showing the world that it carries out an independent policy and it does not intend to blindly follow the US. However, such coincidence as the double visit to the “hot” region signify something more, especially taking into account that this visit of Jiang Ze Min was preceded by his visits to Libya, Nigeria, and Tunis.

Now, after the Middle-East policy of the US went bankrupt, and while other sponsor countries of Middle-East "peace process" (including Russia) are inactive, China has a real chance to play a more important role in the Middle East and neighbouring Africa.

Andrei Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing

Translated by Vera Solovieva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/23/40134.html

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