China in the Mediterranean: Recent Developments and New Challenges
Many factors will play in favor of stronger economic relations between China and Mediterranean countries in the coming years. Nevertheless, following the political transformation triggered by the fall of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, China will face challenges and dilemmas similar to those faced, for many years, by Western countries. While events in the Mediterranean region are still unfolding, it is too early to assess how China will react. A lesson may, however, be taken from the recent evolution of Chinese policy in Sudan: China will prioritize the defense of its economic interests over its political relations with the incumbent regimes. On the other hand, new governments in the Mediterranean region will be much less attracted by the Chinese “model” than the fallen regimes. The decline of both political solidarity and the attractiveness of the Chinese model will put a strain on the relations between China and Mediterranean countries.