ChaiThe title, “You Can’t Catch Me Anymore” is not an exaggeration. The People’s Republic of China is on the verge of challenging America in any sense. In the process, the country may tear down its ideological foundations. It may move towards more violent relations with other countries in the region including India. China may become the new seller and dominant player in the arms market. Even so, China will achieve its goal of scuttling America’s dream of a one-polar world forever. In the third coming of Xi Jinping, China has decided to move away from its foreign relations based on economic interest to a policy that prioritizes political and military interests. The first product of that step change was the revolutionary change in Iran-Saudi relations. How beneficial can this move be? Will this relationship rise to the level of mutually acceptable solutions to the issues of Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Palestine? Time will tell the answer to these questions. But the question of what China has an advantage in has already been answered, surpassing the US.
Beijing is not the old Beijing
It’s only been a technicality that Saudi Arabia and Iran severed diplomatic ties seven years ago. It is said that the severance of relations was caused by the execution of the Shiite leader of Saudi Arabia, Nimt al-Nimr. That is not entirely true. The assassination only caused a complete rift between these countries, which have a decades-long history of mistrust, ideological divisions and shadow warfare. It is no small matter that China is able to fuel such a deep disconnect. Iran’s National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani, Saudi Arabia’s National Security Adviser Musad bin Mohammad Al-Aiban and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reached a crucial agreement at the Beijing summit. What more proof is needed that Beijing is becoming a place where anyone can sit down and talk and reach out.
If the fox that stabs the kid and the kid to drink their blood is a joke in the old story, then America between Iran and Saudi Arabia is the present reality. The US rulers of that time were trying to protect their interests by changing the friendship. A nuclear deal was signed with Iran under Barack Obama; Efforts were made to lift the blockade. “When Trump came, that agreement was torn up and thrown away. Trump approached Saudi Arabia on the advice of son-in-law Gerard Kushner. When Joe Biden arrived, he was confused about where to stand. Biden swallows promise to lift sanctions against Iran. He also initiated another maneuver by bringing the Arab countries closer to Israel. It was in the middle of these games that China brought out the real diplomatic intervention. China is challenging the American presumption that it is smart enough to end and escalate any conflict. America is now economically and politically exhausted. China has stepped into this seat at the right time.
This is not an overnight diplomatic victory. At least this should be seen as the harvest of the movement that started in 2016. During his January 2016 trip to the Middle East, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited three countries – Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It was the first time a Chinese leader had visited Iran after a gap of fourteen years. 17 agreements were signed in Tehran that day. The agreements were in the areas of infrastructure development, energy and revival of the old Silk Road. Financial assistance of one hundred crores to Egypt. An agreement with Saudi Arabia to strengthen comprehensive bilateral relations and build a nuclear power plant. Until then, China had maintained an ugly equanimity on the Palestinian issue. For the first time, Xi Jinping issued a statement that a Palestinian state should be realized with its headquarters in Jerusalem. Xi Jinping’s foreign policy has been described as the “No Enemy Policy”. There is no particular affection for anyone. It can also be called business to business policy. Economic diplomacy. That situation changed and China stepped into a foreign policy with political content with that Middle East trip. Xi Jinping went to Saudi Arabia last December. Last February, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi also came to Beijing. These handshakes paved the way for the decisive step.
Business will crumble
China has already come a long way in trading in the Middle East. China’s trade in the region has boomed and expanded since the beginning of the 21st century. It has increased from $180 billion in 2019 to $259 billion in 2021. Meanwhile, Middle Eastern trade with the United States is expected to decline from $120 billion in 2019 to $82 billion in 2021. China is gaining ground as the largest trading partner of regional powers such as Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. China’s trade partnership was a big relief for Iran, which was devastated by sanctions. After the nuclear deal came the lifting of sanctions, there was an unprecedented boom in infrastructure development in Iran. Then China became the operator of such projects. Now when the Shiite nation is under siege again, China and Venezuela are the only ones to buy oil. China extends its right hand to Iran and gives its left hand to Saudi Arabia. The lion’s share of China’s oil imports also come from Saudi Arabia. In short, the accelerator of Chinese industrial development is in Riyadh.
What is important is that the Iran, Saudi and China alliance has a level of mutual benefit. China is in every sense a strong partner for Iran, which is under US sanctions. With a veto country like China, Tehran can overcome its isolation in the international arena. As the largest oil buyer in the Arab region, peace and stability there are important to China. For Saudi Arabia, it is an urgent necessity to end the conflict in Yemen. Yemen is a critical security issue in the region for Saudi Arabia, which is entering a new phase of reform and self-sufficiency. Saudi Arabia’s joint military operation with the cooperation of the GCC countries has not made much progress in suppressing the Houthi militants. Yemen is the main target for Saudi Arabia when it comes to strengthening its relations with Iran. Moreover, Saudi Arabia realizes that indirect wars with Iran cause huge losses.
Middle Eastern countries and Arab countries fully welcome the restoration of Saudi-Iranian relations as they are all direct or indirect beneficiaries of this development. UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey etc. all welcomed. It should be noted that Israel was the only one to express a different opinion. The picture is clear. China, which brokered the Saudi-Iran summit, is gaining acceptance among those in the region, except Israel. America is slowly getting out. America’s shack plan to join Israel and Saudi Arabia and turn against Iran is falling apart. The Iran-Saudi deal is a blow to the US, which only focuses on Ukraine.
It is important to note why the Chinese Communists will use the acceptance and economic power gained through diplomatic intervention even when they declare that they will not interfere in the political affairs of any country. China will degenerate into another USA if it is to stop terrorizing its Asian neighbors. Will China be willing to pressure Iran to at least reduce its support for the Houthis in Yemen, the Shia group in Iraq, and Hezbollah in Lebanon? Can China End Secret Ties and Bring Iran to Transparent Moderation? Unless Iran’s foreign policy changes drastically, the Chinese-brokered deal will falter. There will be no change in the region unless Iran abandons its violent policy since the 1979 Shiite revolution. This is an opportunity to prove Iran’s sincerity with Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region. If China can lead the Shia leadership to that level, then there is no need to look ahead. If you capture China, you will not get it.