'Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised a massive financial package of loans and aid to Middle Eastern nations, aimed at boosting the region's economy and stability, while US influence in the region is seemingly fading.
Xi, speaking at a meeting with Arab League nation representatives in Beijing, heralded an "oil and gas plus" plan to pour Chinese money into the Middle East. It will include $20bn in loans for projects in countries with reconstruction needs.
Apart from that, China will give $90 million in humanitarian and reconstruction aid to war-torn Syria, Yemen, Jordan, and Lebanon, and $15 million to Palestine.
China has been trying the waters in the Middle East for years now. Stunted by the Arab Spring, its efforts were then given new impetus by the 2013 announcement of the Belt and Road initiative – an epic trade route project to connect China, Africa, and Europe with a string of ports, railways, roads, and industrial parks, going in part through the Middle East.
The world's most energy-hungry economy, China became the top importer of oil in 2017. The Middle East, flush with oil, is a logical prime target for Beijing's money. At the same time, it's seething with internal conflict, and some of the strings of its tangled politics extend far across its borders, to Russia, the US, and Europe. China's non-interference policies seek to dodge those commitments.
"We should treat each other frankly, not fear differences, not avoid problems, and have ample discussion on each aspect of foreign policy and development strategy," Xi said.'
Read more: Contesting America? China pumps millions in restoration money into Middle East
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