Kumaraswamy and his authors note that it took the PRC more than four decades to establish formal diplomatic relations with all the Middle East countries, but that it did so in a way that gained it economic and diplomatic leverage in the region. Kumaraswamy finds that Beijing managed to evolve a Middle East policy so ingenious that it could pursue its vital interests without alienating other players of the region. None of the important players in the region, including Yasir Arafat and the Iranian leadership, registered disapproval when it moved closer to Israel in 1992. And Israel is eager to seek China's friendship, even though it is the first non-Arab country to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a full-fledged state.
The authors minutely expound the process of normalization of diplomatic relations between China on the one side, Israel, the Palestinians, Iraq, and Iran on the other. They take up China's economic relations with the Middle East, its arms control and proliferation policies. They look at the impact of China's Middle East policy on relations with other countries, such as Turkey, Pakistan, and India. The authors find that, as China industrializes, the oil-rich Persian Gulf region is becoming more and more important to it as a source of energy, in view of the shortage of its own oil supplies..
The editor rightly puts this into a larger context, seeing China's relations with the individual countries of the Middle East as an integral part of its aspirations to great power status.