Chinese Soft Power and Green Energy Investment in the Greater Middle East

In: Sociology of Islam
Juan R. I. Cole Professor of History, 1029 Tisch Hall, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, mi48109–1003

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Green energy investment is one avenue through with the Chinese government is beginning to create a new relationship with the Middle East. Chinese solar panel firms have research and production advantages in the world market, but face rising labor costs at home. The Communist Party under Xi Jinping has pursued two major policies, “Go out!” and “One Road, One Belt.” The first refers to Chinese firms creating factories abroad to benefit from cheap labor and from local low-tariff trade blocs. China will therefore set up solar panel factories in the United Arab Emirates and in Morocco. Both countries have strong national commitments to renewable energy, but also have access to a wide range of export markets. This sort of investment changes China’s relationship to the region from being one of buying hydrocarbons to a much more intensive set of interactions, including acting as employer for local labor.

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