‘The European Times’: China hones its Global South diplomacy

12:05 12.05.2023 •

Iran and Saudi Arabia’s agreement to resume diplomatic relations after years of clashes caught many by surprise – especially due to the Chinese role in mediating between the parties, leaving the United States on the sidelines, writes ‘The European Times’.

The deal was described by some as a ground-breaking achievement that will change the entire geopolitical architecture in the Middle East, with ramifications for the United States’ posture in the region.

In fact, the agreement did not turn Iran and Saudi Arabia from foes to friends, nor did it change the multifaceted approach of Middle East countries.

Moreover, China’s active diplomacy should not have come as a surprise; rather, it signaled another step away from “wolf warrior” to more constructive diplomacy, not only regarding the Middle East but globally.

In addition, any promotion of stability is crucial to the Chinese economy – and equally important is to improve its global image.

For example, recently China presented a “peace plan” to end the war in Ukraine.

Another example is the Chinese proposal to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians, recycling old principles that other countries already tried with zero success.

Beijing’s renewed diplomatic activism is aimed at shaping a new diplomatic narrative of China’s global role, primarily focused on the Global South.

In the Middle East, the symbolic mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia is a sign of China’s growing influence in the region over the last decade. Last month, it was reported that China has resumed construction on a military base in the United Arabs Emirates. Earlier this year, China sealed several deals and agreements with Saudi Arabia, including US$50 billion worth of investments.

This trend is very evident in South Asia as well, with China already deeply invested in Sri Lanka and Pakistan while also extending its reach to Nepal and Bangladesh.

What we see in these two regions is playing out across the entire Global South and demonstrating that China’s new active diplomacy focused on cooperation rather than division is proving quite attractive.

In this context, public disagreements between the US and Global South countries (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, to name a few) are used effectively by China to expand its influence.


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