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June 19, 2006



Haven't seen much on Arabs looking to Asia, but on Asia looking to the Middle East and Indonesian Islamism in general you can't go past:


this piece on the potential for asian arab coordination also worth a look


dagger aleph

spoke distressingly impressive Arabic!

Why "distressingly"?


"distressingly" in comparison to a lot of American Arabic-language students!

Scott Martens

I think there's been a distinct uptick in coverage of the Middle East in the Chinese press too. It's a bit impressionistic - I try to follow the press to improve my awful Chinese, I don't keep notes on coverage.

If true, one shouldn't read too much into it. While China is not a bastion of press freedom, the state apparatus is not so tightly wired into the press that subtle differences in coverage are necessarily indicative of policy changes. There has been a sizable increase in Middle Eastern coverage in the European press as well, motivated by gas prices, the mess in Iraq, the mess in Iran, the mess in Somalia... the other messes. The Chinese press may just be taking its cues from CNN International.

On the other hand, Chinese media is much more strongly presenting China as a world power to its own population. Chinese leaders are expected to have opinions and policies about issues far from its immediate sphere. This change of attitude may account for changes too.

And, of course, there is the constant growth in Chinese oil consumption. Base material reasons are not to be neglected as potential hypotheses.

dagger aleph

I guess this is what I was trying to get at, in my comment above: the Arabic language proficiency of Chinese specialists can be seen as distressing if you think the US ought to play some dominant economic or political role in the Middle East, and you think China poses a threat to this role. I was wondering whether that was what you were implying.

I agree that it's distressing that US students by and large don't have fantastic Arabic language skills, but kudos to the Chinese for taking language seriously.


I thought it was clear that "distressingly" meant to Abu Aardvark in his role as a U.S. academic, not as a neo-colonialist (is that one of his roles?). As a teacher, one can try to rationalize one's students' weak Arabic by saying "Well, it's a difficult language, it's a different language family, they're still young..." When Chinese students (not adult specialists) demonstrate proficiency, the excuses distressingly vanish.


A lot of Arabs speak english, none speak Chinese




Lots of Chinese tourists in Cairo these days, and lots more Chinese coming to Cairo for R&R after weeks/months working in Sudan.

Egypt Air was doing flights to Beijing for LE2000 ($350) a few months ago, just after they began the service.

Also, you sometimes see large numbers of Egyptians queuing for visas outside the Chinese embassy of a morning. I don't know why though.

Also, I think Chinese textile firms will be interested in investing in the Egpytian QIZs which give quota free access to the US.


This all bodes well for the day when the Arab world will be cursing Chinese imperialism! I mean the Chinese govt. does not give a hoot about Arab civil society etc.., it already crushes its large muslim minority, and is making deals with nefarious regimes. Just a matter of time when the arab world will look back at the Great Satan and call that the good old days as the evil dragon stomps on them...

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