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How China has become the new mediator in global geopolitics

By Fábio Galão

Assuming a role that used to belong to the United States, China has increasingly sought to exert influence in global geopolitics by mediating agreements to end hostilities between other countries.

The greatest Chinese triumph so far was the announcement, made in March, of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia with Beijing’s mediation, after seven years of broken ties between the two countries.

But China does not want to stop there.

, How China has become the new mediator in global geopolitics
Xi Jinping mediated the reestablishment of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia and is engaged in peace negotiations in Ukraine, Israel, and Yemen (Photo internet reproduction)

Beijing has suggested a peace plan to end the war between Ukraine and Russia.

Last week, Xi Jinping held talks for the first time since the conflict began with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Earlier, Western leaders, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, had called for China to use its influence with Russian President Vladimir Putin to bring about a ceasefire in Ukraine.

Another much older conflict has become the target of Beijing’s diplomatic overtures.

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang has been in contact with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials to initiate peace negotiations and implement the two-state solution in the region.

In talks with the Israeli and Palestinian foreign ministers, Eli Cohen and Riyad Al-Maliki, respectively, Qin argued that China is “ready to facilitate” these talks.

In Yemen, China’s local chargé d’affaires, Shao Zheng, has been holding meetings with members of the country’s Presidential Leadership Council to negotiate an end to the civil war that began in 2015.

In this case, the mediation of the Iran-Saudi Arabia deal helps Beijing, as the two countries wage a proxy war in Yemen.

The talks on Yemen make it clear that China’s goal is not just to gain soft power by mediating peace negotiations.

In a statement released in April, the Chinese embassy in Yemen pointed out that the embattled country “has enormous development potential waiting to be tapped” and that China hopes it can “play an important role in Yemen’s post-war reconstruction and economic development.”

In other words: it is keeping an eye on the business that can be generated by achieving peace.


Ironically, a country accused of genocide within its borders (against the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang) and that has been threatening to invade a neighboring island (Taiwan) is seeking the role of world peace mediator, but, specifically in the case of the Iran-Saudi Arabia agreement, this bad track record has even helped.

China took advantage of America’s distancing from Tehran (after the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal signed in 2015 by the Obama administration) and Riyadh (after Joe Biden’s criticism over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi), two regimes that, like Beijing, have a shameful human rights record.

“China is not concerned with holding other governments accountable for human rights agendas.”

“This is even present in the trilateral note [released in March], which talks about respect for sovereignty and ‘non-interference in internal affairs.”

“This can apply to many issues, including the imprisonment of opponents, suppression of protests, and the like.”

“Remember that Iran is the country that executes the most people in the world, and Saudi Arabia ranks third, both countries suffering international pressure for this,” said historian Filipe Figueiredo, a columnist for Gazeta do Povo.

In a recent article for the South Korean newspaper The Korea Herald, Wang Son-taek, director of the Hampyeong Peace Institute’s Global Policy Center, pointed out that the diplomatic decadence of the United States, according to him, which started under George W. Bush (2001-2009), pushes other powers, with different values from the Americans.

“If the [American] strategy for the Indo-Pacific region is not revised, China’s presence and Russia’s provocations will only increase. ”

“The major middle powers in Asia, Africa, and the Americas will move more toward China and Russia.”

“Some developed countries in Europe and Asia will express more dissatisfaction with the leadership of the United States,” he explained.


Whether China will have the breath to continue mediating agreements worldwide remains to be seen – a role for which credibility is a decisive ingredient.

Tuvia Gering, an expert on China-Middle East relations at the Israel Institute for National Security Studies, said in an interview with DW that China saw “an opportunity” in the Iran-Saudi Arabia deal and was “just the right player at the right time.”

However, being seen as a balanced mediator in other conflicts will be more difficult.

After the conversation between Xi and Zelensky last week, NATO recalled that Beijing still does not condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The partnership between China and Russia (deepened since the beginning of the war) was reaffirmed with Xi visiting the Russian capital in March.

Gering pointed out that Israel views Chinese overtures for negotiations with the Palestinians with the same skepticism that NATO holds toward Beijing’s role in the war in Ukraine.

“China may see itself as a balanced power for all parties, but Israel does not share that sentiment.”

“They see China as a biased and completely cynical player in the region who has no interest whatsoever in resolving this conflict.”

“It’s just China scoring some diplomatic and geopolitical points,” the expert pointed out.

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