Shaking hands and signing deals from Abu Dhabi to Ankara, Tehran to Riyadh, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent Middle Eastern tour once again demonstrated China’s growing influence in the region. Yet, while the trip saw some impressive numbers talked and important political statements made, the visit may have had more to do with a country many miles from the region: the United States.
Coming hot on the heels of angry exchanges between Chinese and US officials in Alaska last month, Wang Yi’s visit saw him go to the capitals of a number of countries also at odds with Washington. “It was a win-win,” Aykan Erdemir, Senior Director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies in Washington DC, told Asia Times. “China could signal to the US that it has substantial relations with Washington’s challengers and adversaries, while those countries could signal to the US that they have another option.”