chapter  3
Walking on thin ropes: a tridimensional perspective
Pages 23

China has been skilfully navigating the treacherous waterways of the Middle East in a quest to pursue its interests, identified in terms of oil, arms sales, trade, cultural and political relations, although the task has proven to be challenging on many occasions. China seems to be walking on thin ropes and playing soothing music to the liking of all parties. The goal is a ‘win-win’ situation, a phrase repeatedly used by Chinese senior officials in bilateral and multilateral relations. The political economy of Sino-Middle Eastern relations and the political landscape of the region appear to be triangular, that is, the result of interaction between three major players. Of course, the approach does not diminish the importance of bilateral relations. As Dittmer states, the triangular logic of relationships among political actors in the international arena applies to any situation meeting certain criteria: ‘(a) it circumscribes the possible relationships among three rational, autonomous actors, (b) the bilateral relationship among any two of these actors is contingent on their relationship with the third, and (c) each actor actively seeks to engage one or the other or both to forestall its defection or hostile collusion and advance its own interests.’1 Within this triangular paradigm, and in relation to China’s foreign policy towards the Middle East, there are sixteen dimensions that can be identified in the following sections.