Alessandro Arduino

Alessandro Arduino

Affiliate Lecturer, Lau China Institute of King’s College London

Dr Alessandro Arduino is an affiliate lecturer at the Lau China Institute of King’s College London. He is also the author of Money for Mayhem: Mercenaries, Private Military Companies, Drones, and the Future of War (2023). His two decades of experience in China have focused on security analysis and crisis management. His main research interests are private military/security companies as well as China’s global security and foreign policy, primarily in China, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. 

Iranians celebrate following Iran's missiles and drones attack on Israel, on 15 April 2024, at Palestine square in central Tehran, Iran. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran's decision to escalate shadow war risks even greater miscalculations

Academic Alessandro Arduino notes the significant escalation and risk of conflict expansion brought about by Iran’s latest attack on Israel. If it was hard for China to do more than urge restraint in the past, it would be harder now to do so with Iran’s decision to escalate the shadow war.
Volunteers transport the coffins of Chinese nationals from a hospital following a suicide attack in Besham city in the Shangla district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, on 26 March 2024. (Omar Bacha/AFP)

From Pakistan to Afghanistan, China grappling with rising terrorist threats

Academic Alessandro Arduino observes that the spike in violence along the route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project is reviving concerns about the "three evils" — terrorism, separatism and extremism — which China, Russia and the Central Asian republics have feared since the inception of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi waits for the US secretary of state at the 60th Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, Germany, on 16 February 2024. (Wolfgang Rattay/Pool/AFP)

Pragmatism shall rule in China's 2024 international relations playbook

Amid China’s top diplomat Wang Yi’s stern warnings against “de-sinicisation in the name of de-risking” at the recent Munich Security Conference, academic Alessandro Arduino asks: is China prepared to alter its international relations playbook?
A man holds a portrait of slain Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani on 5 January 2024 in the Iranian capital Tehran. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Terrorist attack in Iran sends shockwaves closer to China’s borders

With the latest 4 January bombing in Iran by the Islamic State, likely by the ISKP (Islamic State Khorasan Province) branch of the grouping, China is facing a renewed threat of one of its greatest fears: terrorism connecting the Middle East and Central Asia.
Yemenis brandishing their guns chant slogans during a march in solidarity with the people of Gaza, in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa on 15 December 2023. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP)

Bleak prospects for international cooperation to address Houthi Red Sea attacks

Reflecting on the rise of the Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea beyond targets “linked to the Zionist entity”, academic Alessandro Arduino points out that in light of current US-China tensions in the Indo-Pacific, compounded by the polarisation of the Gaza conflict, prospects for successful multinational cooperation in addressing the ongoing maritime crisis seem bleak.
US President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Bali, Indonesia, on 14 November 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The Middle East shadow on Biden-Xi meeting in San Francisco

While there are some expectations that the US and China may agree to work more closely on preventing the Gaza conflict from escalating into a wider regional war, their starting points when they meet in San Francisco may be too far apart. Academic Alex Arduino examines the issue.
An aerial view shows damage caused following a mass infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip, in Kibbutz Beeri in southern Israel, 11 October 2023. (Ilan Rosenberg/Reuters)

War in Gaza a litmus test for China's diplomatic ambitions in the Middle East

China has drawn international flak for not expressing a stronger stance on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, when just a few months ago, it was lauded for helping to ease tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. While it is a key player in the region, China could easily fall back into its “balanced vagueness” foreign policy approach, says academic Alessandro Arduino.
A man stands by as a fire rages in a livestock market area in al-Fasher, the capital of Sudan's North Darfur state on 1 September 2023, in the aftermath of bombardment by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. (AFP)

China’s African ambition comes with mounting challenges

The recent 15th BRICS summit held in South Africa heralded an expanded organisation with new African members. While China seeks to increase its presence and influence on the African continent, it also faces the difficult task of juggling security and development, particularly given that Russia is likewise adamant about safeguarding and expanding its own interests in the area.
Chinese President Xi Jinping looks on at the China-Africa Leaders' Roundtable Dialogue on the last day of the BRICS Summit, in Johannesburg, South Africa, 24 August 2023. (Alet Pretorius/Pool/Reuters)

BRICS expansion a sign of shifting global governance and security architecture

The world's map of global governance and security architecture is shifting, and BRICS is heeding the call for change, says academic Alessandro Arduino. Countries like Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, who have just been invited to join BRICS, seek to diversify their strategic options. This is in line with China's outreach to the global south and Russia’s need to combat international isolation, but the other BRICS members may have some hesitation.