China wants to be "keeper of peace and stability" in the Middle East

While pledging $23 billion in loans and aid, President Xi Jinping told members of the Arab League today that China would like to form a strategic partnership to become "the keeper of peace and stability in the Middle East, the defender of equity and justice, promoter of joint development, and good friends that learn from each other," according to the South China Morning Post.

Why it matters: As Axios' Erica Pandey has reported, China is determined to win influence in the Middle East, largely through its massive Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. And while Beijing has not been shy about developing economic partnerships in the region, Xi's comments signal a new level of political engagement.

The $23 billion includes...

  • $20 billion in loans to stimulate economic development in countries with reconstruction needs
  • $3 billion in special loans for sovereign funds
  • $150 million to support "social stability efforts" in the region
  • $90.6 million in aid to warn-torn countries like Syria and Yemen

Go deeper: China's long game for Middle East influence

What's next

U.S. evacuates personnel as coronavirus death toll climbs

A health worker checks the temperatures of Chinese travelers arriving in Beijing from Wuhan. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

56 people have died from an outbreak of a coronavirus strain that originated in Wuhan, China, according to the Chinese National Health Commission.

The latest: The U.S. Embassy in Beijing announced plans to evacuate its Wuhan consulate personnel and some private citizens on a limited-capacity charter flight from the city to San Francisco on Tuesday, per AP, which reports that those "at greater risk from coronavirus" would be prioritized over others.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020 - World

Biden maintains nationwide polling lead as Warren support falls

The 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

The latest ABC News/Washington Post national poll produced by Langer Research Associates has Joe Biden maintaining his lead with Bernie Sanders claiming second.

Why it matters: Nine days before the Iowa caucuses, Elizabeth Warren’s support among polled Democrats has declined from 21% to 11% since an ABC News/WashPost poll in October.

Andrew Yang qualifies for February debates

Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The next Democratic debate scheduled for Feb. 7 will fall after the Iowa caucuses, four days before the New Hampshire primary, ABC News reports.

The latest: Andrew Yang on Jan. 26 became the seventh Democrat to qualify for the February debate after polling above 5% in UNH/CNN's New Hampshire survey, his fourth qualifying poll.

Go deeperArrowJan 17, 2020 - Politics