China has cast itself as a neutral geopolitical player in the Middle East. It brokered a deal in March to help Iran and Saudi Arabia restore relations. And in the days since Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza, China has tried to keep its distance, with a government spokesperson calling the country "a common friend of both Israel and Palestine.”

Yet China’s stakes in the Middle East are high, particularly if the war now being fought in Israel and Gaza were to broaden through the region.

One big reason: Oil.