During the last four decades, China experienced impressive economic growth, becoming one of the leading powers of the global economy. After a century of humiliation imposed by Western and Japanese colonial powers, today the country is demonstrating a strong desire to achieve its national rejuvenation (guojia fuxing).
When thinking about the most controversial external actor in the Western Balkans from Brussels’ perspective, one tends to look east. Russia has long been labelled the most influential (and problematic) external actor in the region.
Although the Chinese authorities have so far not explicitly said that the donation of masks and other protective equipment to developing countries is part of a formal, coherent strategy, the Chinese government has put significant effort into activating its diplomatic machinery, seemingly taking a leading role in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Africa.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC), and more importantly the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is a major factor in the global information environment. China is both a consumer and a supplier for that network. Some 850 million Chinese people have access to the Internet. China is an integral part of the global supply chain for information and communications technologies (ICT).
China’s growing interest in the Persian Gulf – together with all the talking of U.S. retrenchment from the very same region – gives rise to a question: will China’s increasing economic interest in the Persian Gulf lead to a more activist security policy there? And, to put it bluntly, will China and the U.S. switch roles in the long term? To answer these questions, we need to consider a few aspects. First, what is the strategic relevance of the Gulf to China? Second, how do U.S. and Chinese interests in the region overlap, and how do they separate?
Ever since Beijing started stretching its muscles into the Upper Western Indian Ocean (UWIO), New Delhi has refused to be a passive spectator. Some Indian policymakers interpreted Chinese actions in the area through the lenses of the “String of Pearls” theory, according to which China aims to gain access to a series of strategic locations (i.e., “Pearls”) in the Indian Ocean in order to project power.
The Southern Red Sea region has a key role in global energy security. The Strait of Bab el-Mandeb is one of the world’s most important chokepoints for trade flows, and occupies a central role in the Indian Ocean’s routes. Currently, China relies on oil imports from the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden, whose chokepoints are under the military protection of the US Navy.
The implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the increasing Chinese presence in Pakistan is a matter of domestic and regional concern.
Only several countries were able to boast the possession of “unmanned” aerial vehicles (UCAVs) or armed drones between 2000 and 2004, but that number has risen steadily since. Today, approximately 30 countries are known to have operational armed drones, the proliferation of which has been decidedly facilitated by China’s eagerness to sell to essentially any state that is willing to buy them.