Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu visited Beijing on March 20-21, 2017 – his second visit to China during the term of China’s current president, Xi Jinping. The trip was the product of an invitation from Xi, a point emphasized by Netanyahu’s office to deflect criticism over the frequency of his foreign junkets. The official reason for the visit was the marking of the twenty-fifth anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries, but it could represent an opportunity for Israel to play a more prominent role on the international scene.
As the power of the Islamic State (IS) declines, it is becoming less menacing and less able to sow fear in the world at large. The group sees threats against China as a way to renew that sense of threat. IS claims to offer hope and refuge to the Uyghur Muslims, who are subject to a campaign by the central government in Beijing, and thereby to achieve two major goals: recruiting new volunteers and attracting further attention.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Donald Trump was intensely critical of China throughout his campaign, and tension between the two countries is likely to increase now that he occupies the White House – but only in the economic and diplomatic spheres. The Middle East, including Israel, could nevertheless be drawn into the conflict as a confrontation zone between the superpowers due to the region's natural resources, intersecting sea routes, and overall geostrategic importance.
China has taken several actions relating to the Middle East since the beginning of 2016 that suggest a new approach to the region. The Chinese president visited the Middle East, a new law was passed permitting China to be involved in military action beyond its own borders, and a new Chinese forum was established to promote peace in the region.