China’s Relations with the Mediterranean States: Military and Political Aspects

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Abstract


China is one of the most influential non-regional actors in the Mediterranean. As of 2021, it is ranked among the top three trading partners of almost all Mediterranean states. Chinese foreign policy in the Mediterranean reflects the growing importance of geoeconomics and, in particular, economic instruments of foreign policy in China’s foreign policy strategy. The intersection of the routes of the “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century” and the “Silk Road Economic Belt” in the Mediterranean basin indicates the region’s high potential for the development of new logistics routes, economic corridors and supply chains. Despite significant impact of the coronavirus restrictions on the global economy and the deepest economic crisis seen in recent years, China has not reduced its global activity. Actually, it is the pandemic that can become an incentive for the development of new formats of cooperation within the “Belt and Road” in the Mediterranean. China’s traditional foreign policy paradigm presupposes emphasis exclusively on economic interaction and “non-involvement” in political issues. De facto China’s economic relations with the countries of the region are increasingly complicated by military and political issues. The article categorizes the main political and security issues that arise between China and partner countries in the Mediterranean region. While the discourse of human rights and sustainable development prevails in relations with Europe, the issues of ensuring security and managing regional instability come to the fore when dealing with the states of North Africa and the Middle East. Given China’s growing economic needs, it is likely that in the medium term there will be a doctrinal formalization of China’s role in the political process in the Mediterranean region.


About the authors

Olga A. Timakova

Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Author for correspondence.
Email: o.timakova@dipacademy.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4185-0194
Moscow, Russian Federation

PhD in Political Science, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Political Philosophy

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