Egypt joins China club

By Brendan O’Reilly

President Mohammed Morsi’s historic trip to Beijing signifies a new direction for Egyptian foreign policy. The Muslim Brotherhood leader has sent a clear message by selecting China for his first state visit outside the Middle East. By forging closer ties with China, Morsi is warning the US government not to take Egyptian acquiescence for granted.

He has furthermore offered an important opportunity for China to expand its regional influence. It is essential at this juncture to forecast what China expects from the New Egypt in particular, and the greater Middle East in general. Regional and international powers should take note: China’s influence and clout will increasingly become a decisive factor in all Middle Eastern struggles.

China’s growing engagement with the Middle East is structured


around a consistent three-pronged focus: opportunity, stability, and sovereignty. China sees post-Mubarak Egypt as a potential partner for promoting these Chinese interests in the region. Beyond this essentially conservative strategy, China is quietly exploring contingency options in the event of open antagonism with the United States.

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