China’s interests in the Mideast continue to grow while the region remains mired in a dramatic political transition and escalating tension. The Paris attacks and ISIS execution of a kidnapped Chinese citizen in November 2015 highlight China’s emerging challenge of confronting terrorism as it expands its global footprint. Together, these incidents are transforming China’s traditional non-intervention policy, and prompting Beijing to take a more proactive stance in combating the threat of ISIS and Islamic extremists both at home and abroad. In the face of China’s new pro-activism in the Middle East, Beijing will become an increasingly important partner for Washington and Brussels in international efforts to combat terrorism and address other non-traditional security challenges. Rather than viewing the Middle Kingdom’s rise from a Cold War mentality as a zero-sum game challenging or supplanting U.S. role in the region, Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative could provide a timely platform for China, U.S. and EU to engage in cooperative security to counter-terrorism, reduce ungoverned spaces via economic development, and help promote stability and security in Europe’s eastern and southern neighbourhood.
Dr Lin has extensive US government experience working on China security issues, including policy planning at the US Department of Defense, the National Security Council, and US Department of State. She is the author of The New Silk Road: China’s Energy Strategy in the Greater Middle East (The Washington Institute for Near East Policy). Christina Lin’s current research focuses on the interplay of SCO-EU-NATO relations and China in the Middle East peace process.