ysun1_Sayed HassanGetty Image_redseashipping Sayed Hassan/Getty Images

Why China Won’t Fight the Houthis

Whether they target Chinese vessels directly or not, attacks on Red Sea shipping by Houthi rebels threaten to undermine China’s economic recovery. But, viewed through the lens of its rivalry with the US, the current turmoil in the Middle East is not bad news for China.

WASHINGTON, DC – Chinese policy in the Middle East is shaped by two factors: China’s threat perceptions and its strategic calculus regarding its great-power competition with the United States. And when it comes to dealing with the US, China’s approach comes down to three “nos”: no cooperation, no support, and no confrontation. This credo underlies China’s decision not to push back against the Iran-backed Houthis as they carry out drone and missile attacks on Red Sea shipping lanes.