China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is visiting a number of Middle Eastern countries and is now in Iran. What are China’s plans for the region in the future? Given the tense international situation in which the US is contending with both China and Russia, it is a very timely question.
China has good relations with all nations in the Middle East. As a result, China can act as an intermediary and serve as an interlocutor between them. China’s long-standing adherence to the 5 principles of peaceful coexistence, including non-interference in other nation’s internal affairs, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation place it in good stead with all parties in the region. As such China can serve as an honest broker in helping to resolve ongoing disputes between the various actors in the region who have long been at loggerheads with one another.
Regional stability is not only essential for the development, security, and prosperity of the Middle East; it is also in China’s interest in order to foster good economic and political relations throughout the region.
After WW2 the US inherited the colonial mantle of the British and French who had dominated the region for decades, partitioning it into the political states that continue to exist. The goal of the European colonial powers was to divide the region and rule over it. The US took it upon itself to continue that legacy in support of its imperial goals of regional and global hegemony. Its means to do that has been to create conflicts in the region that it can exploit by fishing in troubled waters. Hence, the US objective is to sow chaos in the Middle East while the Chinese seek peace and stability.
In pursuit of its goals, China stresses the importance of supporting efforts of the regional states to find solutions to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. On Wednesday Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi unveiled a five-point initiative for security and stability in the Middle East. While visiting Saudi Arabia he called for mutual respect among the countries of the Middle East. He expressed China’s support for the Saudi initiative to resolve the conflict in Yemen and expressed the hope that the initiative would be implemented as soon as possible. The Saudi peace initiative includes a nationwide ceasefire and the reopening of air and sea links with the territories held by the Houthi group in Yemen.
The Chinese minister also discussed the Palestinian and Israeli issue, and called for a two-state solution, stressing that his country would send invitations to Palestinian and Israeli personalities for dialogue in China.
FM Wang Yi also stressed that China supports the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region adding, “the efforts of the countries of the region must be supported to ensure that they are free of nuclear weapons.”
It is in the long-term interests of both China and the countries of the Middle East that it becomes a region of peace, stability, and security. Only then can the aspirations of the people of the Middle East be realized. China hopes to play a positive role in that process through its Belt and Road Initiative and its role as a mediator between nations with competing interests.