May 26, 2009

HARRISONBURG—The just-published issue (volume 31, number 3) of the international affairs journal American Foreign Policy Interests features a study by Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, on the impact on United States interests of the emergence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a major political, economic, and military force in the Greater Middle East.

After reviewing the history of relations between the PRC and the states of the Middle East, the article examines the motivations behind and the modalities that characterize the recent intensification of Chinese engagements in a variety of sectors as well as how these are being perceived by governments and peoples in the region. The study concludes:

The increasing engagement of the PRC with the governments and economies of the Middle East does not necessarily represent a direct threat to the national interests of the United States, but it does alter the terms of America’s strategic calculus…[T]here is no avoiding the truth that Chinese influence grows in part because it is viewed as an alternative to American power. While it would be counterproductive to reduce this tension to an open zero-sum competition for access to strategic resources and diplomatic spheres of influence—such approach would stand a good chance of bringing about the very ends it was seeking to preclude—U.S. policymakers and analysts need to carefully weigh the balance of political, economic, cultural, and, yes, military instruments which they will need to leverage in order to renew America’s engagement with and leadership in a region that, for the foreseeable future, remains vital to the national interest

American Foreign Policy Interests is a bimonthly journal published by Taylor & Francis for the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, a research organization founded in 1974 by the late Dr. Hans J. Morgenthau and dedicated to identifying, articulating, and helping to advance the national interests of the United States from a nonpartisan perspective within the framework of political realism. Dr. Pham was elected a member of the National Committee’s Board of Advisors in January 2006.

For the text of the article, “China’s ‘Surge’ in the Middle East and Its Implications for U.S. Interests,” click here.