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China – A super power UPSC NOTE

 China's role in the Middle East, specifically focusing on its efforts at mediation and its competition with the US for influence

  • A push towards ‘mediation diplomacy’ has been an aspirational design for China on two major fronts. 

  • First, it is to position itself as an antithesis to what Beijing sees as decades worth of western interventionist policies.

  • Specifically in a region such as West Asia, where conflict has direct correlation with colonial history. 

  • Second, it is to increase its own geopolitical weight as a responsible international actor and power

  • However, both these aims have been confronted by realities around the war in Gaza.

  • China has taken a clear stance towards the Arab side and has not condemned Hamas by name.

  • Much of the reasoning behind this is to counter long-standing American influence and to take advantage of crevasses in regional diplomacy, specifically by the likes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

  • Which are looking to chart their own paths of strategic autonomy and willing to partner with Beijing despite having close security ties with Washington DC.

  • According to reports, Algeria, Belarus, Cambodia, Djibouti, Indonesia, Laos, Pakistan, Serbia and Sudan were signatories to the initial statement as a preparatory office was launched. 

  • The Chinese establishment hopes to link the mediation initiative to its expansive economic corridor, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

  • The BRI has extensive membership in West Asia as well, with Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE among others being part of China’s economic highways. 

  • Israel, being heavily reliant on the United States for its security, is not a signatory. 

  • However, Israel’s embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aired the fact last year that China had invited him for a state visit.

Challenges for China

  • The war in Gaza has drawn strong red lines between China and Israel

  • This raises interesting questions on the exact role Beijing played in the Saudi-Iran détente

  • The probability of China being pulled into the process by Riyadh and Tehran, rather than actively brokering a deal, remains high

  • China has also been absent through the crisis in the Red Sea.

  • Where predominantly western naval forces have attempted to maintain the free flow of trade in this critical waterway

  • Contrarily, reports have suggested that Yemen-based Houthis were not targeting Chinese and Russian ships.

  • Suggesting a bypass potentially using leverages that Beijing has with its close partner Iran despite Tehran’s calls for the Yemeni militia to cease attacks. 

  • If so, it shows China’s crafty diplomacy was to predominantly protect its own interests and not wade into the crisis as an influential power looking to use its position to broker peace or even a ceasefire. 

  • Much of this kind of actual heavy lifting remains at the doorsteps of the White House.

  • Beijing’s support for the Palestinian cause without criticising Hamas practically aligns with the larger Arab posture. 

  • This stands against U.S. support for Israel, which is increasingly being criticised for its absolutist nature as the body count in Gaza continues to grow. 

  • China’s intent for ‘mediation’ is non-existent in high-stake conflicts and is un-aspirational beyond the strategic aim of showcasing western, and, more specifically, American power and influence, as detrimental to both international stability and security.

Persian Gulf – location

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: China – A super power UPSC NOTE
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