Jonathan Fulton, "Routledge Handbook on China–Middle East Relations" (Routledge, 2021)


Have you ever read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises? When asked how he went bankrupt, a character replies, “Gradually, then suddenly.”

In this conversation, Julie Yu-Wen Chen, professor of Chinese studies at the University of Helsinki, discusses with Jonathan Fulton about his newly edited Routledge Handbook on China–Middle East Relations. Jonathan Fulton is assistant professor of political science at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council.

According to Fulton, China’s emergence as an important actor in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) brings to mind this piece of dialogue from Hemingway’s work. “Those of us watching China’s growing presence in the region have seen a gradual expansion of China’s influence and interests over the past decade, but those not paying attention would understandably be surprised by the apparent sudden depth and breadth of its presence”, explained Fulton. The Routledge Handbook on China-Middle East Relations brings together a mix of established and emerging international scholars to provide valuable analytical insights into how China’s growing Middle East presence affects intra-regional development, trade, security, and diplomacy. As the largest extra-regional economic actor in the Middle East, China is the biggest source of foreign direct investment into the region and the largest trading partner for most Middle Eastern states. This portends a larger role in political and security affairs, as the value of Chinese assets combined with a growing expatriate population in the region demands a more proactive role in contributing to regional order.

Julie Yu-Wen Chen is professor of Chinese studies at the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki (Finland). Dr. Chen serves as one of the editors of the Journal of Chinese Political Science (Springer, SSCI). Formerly, she was chair of the Nordic Association of China Studies (NACS) and editor-in-chief of Asian Ethnicity (Taylor & Francis). You can find her on the University of Helsinki Chinese Studies’ website, Youtube and Facebook, and her personal Twitter.

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, and Asianettverket at the University of Oslo.

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Julie Yu-Wen Chen

Julie Yu-Wen Chen is Professor of Chinese Studies at the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki (Finland).

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