In This Review

China Considers the Middle East
China Considers the Middle East
By Lillian Craig Harris
I. B. Tauris, 1993, 345 pp.

China's ties to the Middle East have a long history, but until now no one has tried to develop the connections between this legacy and China's contemporary policies in the Middle East. The author, well versed in both cultures, sees China's interests in the Middle East as an extension of its interest in the geostrategic game in Central Asia. In dealing with the Arab-Islamic region, the Chinese tend to adopt a "historically generated natural self-confidence." During the Cold War, they could play the role of defending the region against the hegemonic ambitions of both Washington and Moscow, but that rationale no longer suffices. Policy choices are becoming more complicated, and some, such as arms sales to Iran, may lead to problems with the Americans. China also has to pay attention to the possibility of Islamic movements gaining ground in its western regions. These issues are of growing importance in the emerging global politics of the Middle East and Central Asia, and this book is a welcome source of history and analysis.