China’s Soft Military Presence in the Middle East

Sun Degang

China’s military relations with the countries of the Middle East have become increasingly close in recent years. To protect its commercial interests and contribute towards international security, China has built up a soft military presence of various forms in the Middle East. Such overseas military forces are deployed either within the framework of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) or independently, and carry out military as well as civilian missions, especially in areas such as the evacuation of nationals, humanitarian relief, search and rescue, protecting expatriates, escorting, logistics supply, peacekeeping, and conflict prevention. The soft military footprints are not for geopolitical rivalry, but rather for mission-oriented tasks.