Abstract

Abstract:

China seeks to build a multipolar architecture in the Eastern Mediterranean through economic expansion without challenging the political and security order in the region. Unlike the United States, Russia, Britain and France, which rely on military presence in the region, China has built substantial economic presence within its ambitious framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, exemplified by its seaport diplomacy towards Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel and Lebanon. China's seaport diplomacy is shaped by its development-oriented mentality, and driven by the economic competitiveness of the host countries, China's economic interdependence and political affinity with the target states, as well as the development potential and the regional influence of the target seaports. Beijing highlights that its geoeconomic interests, manifested in its participation in seaport development, are compatible with other great powers' geopolitical interests in the region. However, China's seaport diplomacy there faces various hurdles, including seaport overcapacity, debt problems and great powers' geopolitical rivalry due to China's ambiguity of strategic motives. In the long run, China's commercial seaport projects in the Eastern Mediterranean may have potential to clash with the United States and the European Union due to the escalating mutual mistrust among great powers, making it hard for Beijing to seek economic benefit while avoiding political entanglement.

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