Jakarta: Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University's Middle East expert Ali Munhanif said that China's increasing presence and investment in the Middle East may have positive economic effects in the region.
"I think China will be the new player in the Middle East," Munhanif told a public discussion here on Friday, September 27, 2019.
He argued that China's diplomatic strategy is different with the US and European countries. He explained that China prefers the use of soft power to increase its appeal in the region.
In North Africa, China has been funding infrastructure, technology and industrial projects in Maghreb countries. In addition, China also has been promoting exchange programs for officials.
"Policy makers from African nations go to China to study, learn and compare the development achievements in the region," he said.
According to Muhanif, China's diplomatic strategy can create problems for old players like the US and European nations. In order to bolster its influence, China should maintain good relations with major regional actors like Saudi Arabia.
"This is why having a meeting with Mohammad Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and bringing him into China is important as part of the regional picture," he concluded.