Read: “China’s New Silk Route Initiative: Political, Economic Implications for the Middle East, SEA”

on . Posted in News @ UP Asian Center

Cover of the Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in Asia (Grabbed from journal website).

An article by Dr. Henelito Sevilla, Jr., “China’s New Silk Route Initiative: Political and Economic Implications for the Middle East and Southeast Asia”, was recently published in the Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (in Asia) of the Middle East Institute, Shanghai International Studies University.  

The paper argues that the increasing expansion of China’s interests into nearby regions is a “natural byproduct” of its growing economy. According to Dr. Sevilla, China’s expansion through initiatives such as the “One Belt, One Road” will not be without benefits for the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Here are some excerpts from the article. 


“While China is busy with its immediate concerns with two separate regions—that of Middle East and Southeast Asia—ASEAN and GCC member countries can also take this opportunity to revisit their economic and trade relations with each other. Niu Song has observed that given the important role of GCC and ASEAN in promoting some sort of regionalism, the two organizations can actually help in facilitating more open regional market connectivity by making the existing ASEAN-GCC Free Trade Area more effective and successful. Niu argues that GCC has already shown some success in connecting the Gulf economies with other Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, in the same manner, that ASEAN member states plus China and Japan being members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).”


“A strengthened ASEAN and Middle Eastern economy would possibly increase the ASEAN and Middle East countries’ political leverage to negotiate with greater economic power such as China and even the US and EU in the case of the Middle East countries. On the other hand, the more economically and socio-culturally closed people in the region has the greater possibility of regional security cooperation in which China and ASEAN, which, together with Japan and South Korea, could address regional security impediment such as the South China Sea, Korean Peninsula, nuclearization, piracy and non-traditional security challenges. This is perhaps one reason why initiatives to increase Chinese-Arab cultural exchanges are necessary, both at present but more importantly for the future relations between China and the region.”


“ASEAN countries and China have traditionally been close to each other. The old maritime silk route that connected them and the Asian heritage they share have certainly defined their closeness in the ancient time until today. However, international politics of the Cold War and of today put some sort of challenge in their relations as one country’s interests may be influenced by a superior country or by the development that happen regionally or internally, and define the new direction of their domestic and foreign policy.”


“In the case of the Middle East, China has no apparent political problem with many if not all of the Middle East countries. Its greatest challenge can be seen from regional security issues involving regional countries. Aside from this, China may also face fierce competition with the US, Europe and Russia in the region, given that the Middle East is their traditional area of interests. Regional political and ideological conflicts involving these regional actors remain a hindrance to a successful Chinese OBOR initiative, but a careful and balanced Middle East approach, which China prioritizes, may create favorable economic and political benefits for China.”


Dr. Henelito A. Sevilla, Jr. is Assistant Professor at the Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman and Assistant to the Dean for Administration and Public Affairs. He specializes in international relations, Mindanao studies, Philippine-Middle East Relations, political economy of the Middle East, energy security in Asia, Persian Gulf security and Middle Easterners in the Philippines. The coordinator of the West Asian Studies graduate program of the UP Asian Center, he handles several graduate courses such as Seminar on West Asia, Philippine Foreign Relations in Selected Countries in West Asia, and History and Development of Philippine Foreign Policy. Visit his faculty profile

The Asian Center offers M.A. degrees in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. The Center offers a Ph.D. program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. For an overview of these graduate programs, click here. The Asian Center also publishes Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia, the latest issue of which can be downloaded at the journal's website. View recent and upcoming Lectures & Conferences and read other News & Announcements. Join our mailing list to 

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