Diplomatic Ripples China’s Foray into Middle Eastern Affairs
Close on the heels of U.S. diplomatic endeavours in the Middle East, China marks its presence with its special envoy, Zhai Jun, launching a comprehensive tour across the tension-gripped region. This move comes in the aftermath of President Joe Biden’s notable wartime sojourn to Israel, highlighting the escalating international stakes in the area.
Promoting Peace or Strategic Move? Zhai Jun’s Mission
While the official aim centers on advocating peace negotiations between Israel and Hamas, Beijing’s silence on explicitly acknowledging or denouncing the Palestinian militant faction raises eyebrows. Amid this ambiguity, Zhai’s journeys have encompassed Qatar and a significant peace summit in Egypt, where he championed a ceasefire, humanitarian corridors into Gaza, and upheld China’s endorsement of a two-state resolution.
An Uncertain Path China’s Mideast Diplomacy in Question
Despite these moves, the effectiveness of China’s peace-brokering capabilities remains under scrutiny, given its limited history and influence in arbitrating within such a persistently contentious zone. Experts, familiar with the Middle Eastern dynamics, cast doubts on any substantial outcomes from Zhai’s diplomatic excursion, pointing instead to potential ulterior motives aligning with China’s broader geopolitical agenda.
Geopolitical Chess China’s Broader Agenda
Analysts perceive this venture as a calculated strategy by China to incrementally shift the global power equilibrium. By asserting itself in a region traditionally dominated by American influence, Beijing appears to be courting favor with the Arab world and the Global South — constituencies that resonate with the Palestinian plight and harbor reservations about the prevailing U.S-centric global structure.
Beyond Symbolism Analysts Weigh In
“China’s diplomatic stance, while overtly advocating tranquility and de-escalation, also robustly underscores its support for Palestine,” observes Sanam Vakil of Chatham House. However, he cautions that China’s historical footprint in this arena is minimal, suggesting its current efforts may be more symbolic than influential.
Jonathan Fulton of the Atlantic Council echoes this, noting that China’s quest is not merely about showcasing its alignment with Arab aspirations but also about presenting an alternate regional vision counter to that of the U.S. “China’s desire to project itself as a pivotal, conscientious force on the global stage is evident, yet its engagement depth in the Middle East doesn’t necessarily secure it a leadership role,” he elaborates.