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Chinese warships tour Gulf Arab states for first time since 2010

Image of a Chinese navy ship [Petty Officer 1st Class Cynthia Clark/Wikipedia]
Chinese navy ship, 24 January 2017 [Petty Officer 1st Class Cynthia Clark/Wikipedia]

Chinese warships began a tour of Gulf Arab states for the first time in six years while Beijing has expressed its desire to play a greater role on the international scene.

China's CCTV channel said three Chinese vessels, including a guided-missile destroyer warship, arrived in Qatar's capital Doha on Saturday following a visit to the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

The Chinese navy regularly tours the world while its ships patrol off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia as part of international anti-piracy operations; however, it is uncommon that they visit Gulf Arab states, where both the US and Britain have naval bases.

The Chinese navy visited Iran for the first time in 2014 to participate in joint naval exercises with the Islamic Republic.

Beijing relies on the Middle East for oil, but it usually leaves Middle Eastern diplomacy to the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Britain, France and Russia.

However, China has been trying to get more involved, especially in Syria peace efforts, and has taken tentative steps over the Yemen crisis too.

A senior Chinese diplomat said Monday that Beijing could be forced to play a leading role if others step back from that position after US President Donald Trump pledged in his first speech to put "America first".

Asia & AmericasMiddle EastNewsQatarSaudi ArabiaUS
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