China helps herald new dawn in Mideast

Brokering bilateral relations between Saudi and Iran shows Beijing is source of support, stability

Wang Yi (center), a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, with representatives from Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing on Friday. (WANG JING / CHINA DAILY)

The announcement of the resumption of bilateral relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which was brokered by China, is a significant development in the political landscape of the Middle East. As tensions between the two regional powers have been a source of instability, the success of China’s diplomatic efforts signifies a potential shift in the region’s power dynamics.

The timing of the agreement, which was signed in Beijing on March 10 — the same day that Xi Jinping was elected president of China by the National People’s Congress — cannot be ignored. It serves as a clear indication of China’s growing influence and willingness to play a more active role in global affairs, including those in the Middle East.

The deal is also a clue to the waning influence of the United States in the region. For decades, Washington has abused its dominant role in shaping the politics and security of the Middle East while inflicting catastrophic humanitarian disasters on local people.

The resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is expected to be implemented in good faith, could pave the way for wider regional peace and stability. The two nations have a long and complicated history, with sectarian divides and political rivalries fueling tensions. However, the willingness of both sides to come to the negotiating table and engage in dialogue is a step forward.

The agreement also serves as a reminder that diplomacy and dialogue are key to resolving conflicts and maintaining peace. The use of force, aggression and sanctions has often exacerbated tensions in the region, leading to further instability and insecurity. The resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia offers a glimmer of hope that peaceful solutions can be found to even the most intractable conflicts.

However, the road ahead requires continued rapprochement and peace efforts, and much will depend on the ability of both Iran and Saudi Arabia to honor their commitments and work toward regional peace. Despite the numerous challenges that lie ahead, this significant diplomatic breakthrough provides a ray of hope that peaceful resolutions can be achieved even in the most persistent and entrenched disputes.

To preserve the integrity of this momentous accord, it is incumbent upon the international community to extend its support and ward off any political gamesmanship or extraneous meddling. The international community must also play a role in supporting this process, including the US, which has long been involved in negative politics in the region.

This development underscores the importance of diplomacy in addressing conflicts, and the potential of neutral parties such as China to facilitate resolution of longstanding issues in the Middle East. 

The successful mediation by China demonstrates the capacity of a mediator to bring rival parties together and highlights the value of diplomacy as an effective instrument for conflict resolution.

Besides mediating between Iran and Saudi Arabia, China has provided diplomatic support to the Syrian government and has been involved in the country’s reconstruction. In Yemen, China has sought to remain neutral, advocating for an end to the conflict and providing humanitarian aid to those affected by the war.

The expansion of China’s economic and political reach far beyond its borders has again proved beneficial for regional and international development, with many looking forward to its leading role in a global community with a shared future. This is already shown by its people-centered and livelihood-oriented projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

It is imperative that the international community, including other global players, recognize and endorse the utility of diplomatic channels and aid in efforts toward establishing a more peaceful Middle East.

Instead of being constantly wary of China’s rise and attempting to contain its influence through measures such as trade tariffs and military alliances, the US and its allies should reconsider their militant approach and contribute positively to peace and development by caring for others’ sovereignty, security and economic benefits.

The dynamic nature of China’s role in the Middle East and its global pursuits is ever evolving. Its practical and noninterventionist methodology, effective thus far, may still have to navigate the intricate political terrain of the Middle East. 

One undeniable fact, however, is that China’s contribution to stability and development in the Middle East and other realms will undoubtedly shape its role in the region and beyond.

The writer is Peshawar-based secretary-general of the Pakistan China Friendship Association. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.