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As the United States vacates some of the foreign outposts, China is moving in to fill up the vacuum at a fast pace. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s latest visit to the Middle East is an indication in that direction. He has vowed to work with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, UAE, Bahrain and Oman to help protect their core interests against foreign interference. China’s rhetoric has been harsh in recent times and it appears ready to back up the rhetoric with tough actions.
China’s involvement in the region is neither recent nor has been peaceful as it prefers to portray itself. In the 1950s and 60s, China associated closely with nationalist governments and movements in various countries including Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, Eritrea, and the Gulf. It provided them financial and military assistance, sold arms and ammunition (sometimes to both the warring parties). It changed the tack in the 70s but the new avatar was unveiled only in the 90s.
On the other hand U.S. President Joe Biden barely two months into presidency seems tired of dealing with the Middle East. He announced an end to U.S. support for Saudi-led operations in Yemen with in the first two weeks in the office. Latest developments as per Wall Street Journal are that U.S. has begun to reconfigure its military capabilities in the Gulf and removed at least three Patriot missile defence systems, divereted aircraft carrier and surveillance systems from the region.
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