China’s Energy Diplomacy Towards the Middle East in the BRI Era: Energy Security Versus Geopolitics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


China’s energy diplomacy towards the Middle East was started from the mid-1990s, after the country became a net oil importer in 1993. Driven by the concern of stable oil supply at the time, Beijing’s dealing with the region was to avoid taking side from the complex power struggles, and to rely on the United States to ensure regional stability. However, following China’s growing potential, especially with the launch of the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) since 2013, Beijing’s engagements with the Middle East have not only gone beyond traditional fuel of oil and gas into cleaner energy sectors, its energy diplomacy has also been embedded with geopolitical features.

The chapter has selected two regional powers – Saudi Arabia and Iran – as case-studies to show the changes and the rationale of Beijing’s energy diplomacy prior and under the BRI era. It attempts to answer two main questions: what are the key factors behind the changes of China’s energy diplomacy towards the Middle East? And, what are the likely implications of Beijing’s new approach on regional stability of the Persian Gulf and its BRI? The analysis will look into the interactions between China’s energy diplomacy, Sino-US competitions and domestic politics of the chosen countries, in order to identify the key variables behind China’s dealing with these countries, and to predict the trend of China’s dealing with the Middle East as well as the geopolitical implications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Companion to China and the Middle East and North Africa
EditorsYahia H. Zoubir
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780367499839, 9781003048404
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2023


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