China 'not trying to surpass US' in Middle East: Envoy

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China is not seeking to compete with the United States in exerting influence in the Middle East but is confident about its ties to the region despite recent power transfers, Beijing's special envoy to the Middle East has said.

"The US's values and interests clashed (in the regional chaos in the Middle East) this time, and it chose to protect its interests," Wu Sike, who has been the country's envoy to the Middle East since March 2009 and is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told China Daily on the sidelines of the annual session of the CPPCC National Committee.

Washington's support for discarding Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president, a long-term strategic ally of the US, "hurt and disappointed" both Arab leaders and America's other allies in the region, said Wu, a former ambassador to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Despite these setbacks for the US, Beijing is not trying to surpass Washington in exerting influence in the Middle East.

"There is no need for comparisons or to think that as the US goes down, China will necessarily fill the void," said the envoy.

Beijing has long got along well with Arab countries, avoided intervening in their domestic affairs and respected their peoples' choices. With the current strengthening of the business ties that have already benefited both sides, Wu said the relationship has a "solid and deep" basis.

"But our not intervening in their affairs does not mean we don't care about them," he said. "We will keep advocating for the adoption of peaceful ways to solve the problems in order to avoid the losses that excessive turbulences would subject the region and world to."

The veteran diplomat suggested regional riots are likely to continue for a time and may result in further political reform in some countries, but will possibly not lead to a "fourth oil crisis" for the region, as some media have predicted.

"This is essentially still about the domestic problems of some countries," he said, adding that circumstances are unique for every Arab country.

Wu said he plans to visit the Middle East after the CPPCC National Committee session to help encourage communication between Palestine and Israel and to prevent their current negotiations from losing momentum.

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