China’s Confused Middle East Policies

by Joshua Kurlantzick

Police arrest a man after calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" protest, organised through the internet, in front of the Peace Cinema in downtown Shanghai February 27, 2011.

Police arrest a man after calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" protest, organised through the internet, in front of the Peace Cinema in downtown Shanghai. (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters)

As unrest sweeps through the Middle East, China has reacted in many different, and sometimes conflicting ways. It has issued its traditional call for countries to respect other nations’ sovereignty, while simultaneously deploying a large naval operation to evacuate Chinese workers from Libya, and backing a UN resolution imposing sanctions on the Libyan regime. It has cracked down on any sign of a “jasmine revolution” at home, while sometimes publicly noting the failures of the most autocratic Middle Eastern governments.

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