ChinaMed’s primary research aim is to analyze the increasing interconnections between China and the wider Mediterranean region, and to explore their potential impact on regional and global dynamics.
The Mediterranean is one of the great economic, socio-cultural, and geopolitical pivots in human history. It is both a space of unity and coherence, characterized by long-term continuity, as well as a dynamic epicenter of centrifugal forces that connect Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The current “arc of tension” projecting from the wider Mediterranean region is the byproduct of two mutually-reinforcing phenomena: the simmering civil war within Islam, and the financial crisis engulfing the southern members of the Eurozone.
As political instability, bursts of extremism, and economic dislocation across this region reverberate globally, they intersect with the most profound macro-trend of the last four decades: the transition of China, with its 1.4 billion people, from the periphery to the core of the international system. Next to the United States, China is today the most influential global actor and is quickly becoming an eminent player in the Mediterranean. While it would be premature to describe America and Russia’s waning influence on the Mediterranean as a remnant of the 20th century, it is clear that China will leave the most prominent footprint on the region in the 21st century.
Talking about China’s role in the Mediterranean region raises a conceptual and methodological challenge: while China can be easily identified in the Mediterranean as the People's Republic of China, there is no equally well-defined geopolitical concept of the Mediterranean region in the Chinese academic and policy world. Hence, in order to capture the full scope of Chinese interests and how regional dynamics impact on them, the scope of ChinaMed’s research will include those countries that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs groups under the label of "West Asia and North Africa", part of those that are grouped under the label of “Southern Europe", and a few others, like Djibouti or Ethiopia and Mali, whose relevance for Chinese economic and security interests in the region is outstanding. Therefore, the wider Mediterranean region we look at is composed by Southern Europe (Albania, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, and Spain), the Middle East (Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza/Palestine, Yemen), and North Africa (Algeria, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Tunisia).
ChinaMed reflects upon and actively engages with the growing relationship between China and the Mediterranean region through a wide range of academic and policy-related initiatives. These include track-1.5 dialogues, closed-door workshops at key Chinese and Mediterranean institutions, a rich series of public lectures and conferences, and the collection and analysis of an extensive set of data from authoritative sources in English, Italian, Chinese, French, Croatian, Greek, Turkish, Persian, and Arabic.
The ChinaMed project is run by Enrico Fardella and Andrea Ghiselli. Ahmet Faruk Işik, Anastas Vangeli, Andrea Barbieri, Elena Avramidou, Melodie V. Ha, and Sajjad Talebi (alphabetic order) are also part of the ChinaMed team. Yue Cao contributed to the initial phase of data collection from 2011 to 2013.