World News and Trends: China's obscure Middle Eastern activities

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China's obscure Middle Eastern activities

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China receives little news coverage concerning its activities in the Middle East. As the late Deng Xiaoping once expressed it, "China must hide brightness and nourish obscurity . . . to bide our time and build up our capabilities."

Today Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia all have significant links to China, which are viewed as a counterbalancing factor to American power and influence in the Middle East. For instance, Saudi and Iranian oil exports to China have risen sharply in the last 10 years.

Of much greater concern is a recent report in The Times that "China has sold Iran tanks, planes, artillery. . . and anti-aircraft missiles." It is also Iran's main supplier of unconventional arms and is thought by almost all monitors to be illicitly involved in supplying key elements in Iran's chemical and nuclear weapons programme . . . China has sold nuclear reactors to Algeria, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia" (Aug. 8).

Yet Chinese trade with America is growing by leaps and bounds. Take the case of BNSF, a major railway with outlets to three major seaports. Trains magazine reported that "sixty percent of the railroad's international container traffic involves China . . . Over the past three years business with China has grown 10 percent to 14 percent annually" (Aug. 2006). There seems to be some kind of a contradiction here that we find hard to comprehend.

The West has many enemies, and not all of them are in the Middle East. (Sources: The Times [London], Trains (USA).)