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Opinion: Is China Pivoting Toward the Middle East?

By Mirek Dusek and Maroun Kairouz

At this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, President Xi Jinping declared his intention to host a Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, to which most countries from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have been invited.

This follows China’s first Arab policy paper, issued in January 2016, outlining the government’s vision for an enhanced relationship with the countries of the region. The document indubitably reflects the Middle East’s soaring importance in Beijing’s eyes, and could very well be a harbinger of its future plans. Indeed, in the decade leading up to 2014, trade flows between the two sides have surged by 600%.

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