Middle East Briefs

Parallel to the Center’s scholarly work, Middle East Briefs provides a brief analysis of a single issue at the top of the region’s political, social, or economic agenda. Targeted primarily at decision-makers and opinion leaders, the publication was launched in 2005.

Latest Brief

December 2020 – The Persian Gulf and China: The Growth and Limits of Economic Ties

Nader Habibi

Middle East Brief 139 (Summary) — China’s economic and diplomatic ties with each of the eight states that border the Persian Gulf rapidly expanded over the past two decades. This occurred despite conflicts and diplomatic tensions among those states and the heavy dependence most of them have on the United States for their external security. And China, so far, has largely avoided being drawn deeply into the complex politics of the region. In this Brief, Nader Habibi explores the reasons for this growth in China’s trade and investment with Iran, Iraq, and the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council. He analyzes the motivations and strategic calculations of the Gulf states while emphasizing China’s ability to contribute to economic diversification programs and link infrastructure projects to its global Belt and Road Initiative. Habibi concludes by discussing factors that might limit further expansion of Gulf-China economic ties, including increasing U.S. concern about China’s growing influence in the region.

Read Middle East Brief 139 (PDF)

Nader Habibi, Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East at the Crown Center.