China Plays a Key Role in Reestablishing Relations Between Saudi Arabia and Iran
China has played a key role in the recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to reestablish relations and reopen embassies within two months. The deal was announced on March 10th after four days of talks in Beijing. The timing of the agreement coincides with the beginning of President Xi Jinping’s third term, and he played a critical role in ensuring that the two nations found common ground.
Previously, the United States and Russia had been the main mediators in such situations. However, China’s entry as a mediator shows its growing diplomatic influence and strength in the region, matching its economic footprint.
China has been expanding its economic ties across regional divides, cementing its position as the largest trading partner to regional powers such as Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. From 2019 to 2021, China’s economic footprint in the region increased from $180 billion to $259 billion, while Middle Eastern trade with the United States declined from $120 billion to $82 billion.
The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran was met with mixed reactions globally. While the US welcomed the decision, many countries, such as India, maintained silence. However, the growing proximity of West Asia to China could lead to the de-dollarization of the petrol dollar, and any positive movement could lead to ease in Iran’s economy, which has suffered greatly because of US-led sanctions.
China’s message is clear that only traditional forms of democracy are not the beacon of light for peace, and that China’s form of government is kosher. It also shows that China can broker peace between governments that do not have democratic structures, as seen in the case of Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The agreement between Syria and Saudi Arabia to reopen the embassies of the two countries has been welcomed by China. The growing proximity of West Asia to China could lead to the revitalization of Arab countries and lead to the de-dollarization of the petrol dollar.