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Anti-Western Axis of China, Russia and Iran Forging Closer Ties Amid Growing Tensions in the Middle East 

As tensions continue to rise in the Middle East, China, Russia, and Iran conducted joint naval drills in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea between March 11 and March 15, 2024. The exercise, under the name “Maritime Security Belt – 2024”, was described as a joint effort to safeguard maritime security and regional peace and stability. However, against the backdrop of the US and some  EU countries’ unprecedented naval presence in the Red Sea, the drills can also be seen as sending a clear signal to the West and as a part of a longer-term pattern of boosting the trio’s mutual cooperation.  

China’s Cautious Response to the Red Sea Crisis 

As Houthi attacks on shipping lines in the Red Sea continue, China’s economic stakes in the region are becoming increasingly exposed. However, despite the growing costs of the Houthis’ persistent targeting of commercial ships, China’s public reaction has remained relatively cautious. But the longer the conflict continues, the more pressure there will be on China to prove its dedication to becoming a constructive player in the resolution of “hotspot issues.”